Jae Stephens doesn’t sing straightforward love songs. On her first single, last June’s mellow-pop “24K,” she saw the boy across from her as “a risk I have to take;” on “Every Time” she obsessed with a “no good” kid: “not thinking straight, but I won’t complain.” The darkness flooded in on her last release, “You Love That,” a song just as sultry as anything that had come before, but far knottier lyrically. There, she gleefully fed someone else’s masochism: “You think you can take care of me / But boy, you should be fucking scared of me / And you love that, I know you love that.”
Now, after working with producers like Bruno Major, Jam City, and Jonah Christian, the 20-year-old LA resident is ready to break out. “Headlights,” premiering today through Soundcloud X Noisey Video Singles, is another slow-burning R&B track, building up from distant, percussive synths, relaxing into a soft-trap chorus. But despite its “boy, come my way” refrain, it’s still got an eye fixed on the void: a car controlled by a seemingly suicidal driver, blocked blessings, “sunlight in the dust.” Watch the video for “Headlights” at the top of the page.