Snail Mail, the solo project of Baltimore native Lyndsey Jordan, dropped their long-anticipated full length album, Lush, just last week. The baby-faced blonde juts out a defiant chin, her gaze steady and unflinching as she ruminates on unrequited love. The songwriting of Lush is blunt and pragmatic. She is both vulnerable and resilient, which makes listening to this record feels like reading your kid sister’s diary. What sets this album apart is the departure from the grainy scratch of lo-fi recordings as Snail Mail graduates from the invisibility of DIY culture. Boxed up compactly in 10 songs, the studio-produced quality is inescapable, the sound polished and clean. Although Jordan has been criticized for imitating the sound of her 90’s rock influences, Lush is undeniably self-aware and I look forward to seeing how she matures as an artist.
“Pristine” is, indisputably, the spine of this record. Jordan’s voice rises above the waves swelling and unfurling beneath her, never buried behind the noise. The chorus is a bold, if naive proclamation: “I won’t love anyone else / I’ll never love anyone else.” It would be too easy to be dismiss this line as the callow assertion of a first breakup, because it rings with sincerity, relatable for anyone who’s been in love. Each track is more emotionally bare than the last, gaining momentum and culminating in the cinematic climax of “Stick.” Jordan teeters off-key, shrugging in a bored, defeated sort of way. “Did things work out for you? Or are you still not sure what that means?” I can’t help picturing Jordan rolling her eyes as she delivers this line, fed-up of being stepped on. It captures what it feels like to be helplessly indecisive, tight walking ambiguity, and on the opposite end, the frustration of waiting for someone to make up their mind.
“Heat Wave” has been praised for its gorgeous guitar riffs, Jordan demonstrating her technical skill in dynamic instrumental breaks and all-consuming solos. The lyrics are pensive and temperamental. This song is a languid summer afternoon, you can feel the steamy press of heat like trudging through molasses. Afternoon bleeds into evening in the cool poetry of “Let’s Find An Out.” “?June’s glowing red / Oh strawberry moon / You’re always coming back a little older / But it looks alright on you.” Jordan’s tone grows mellow and apologetic, this track reading like a confession. This is what it feels like when a relationship turns into a trap you have to negotiate your way out of, the embers of a fire burning out. — MARIAH HALL