Snail Mail Breaks Our Hearts and Scales New Heights with Valentine

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Similar Artists: Soccer Mommy, Japanese Breakfast, Jay Som
Recommended Tracks: “Valentine”, “Ben Franklin”, “Automate”

At the age of 17, Lindsey Jordan got more famous than most of us will ever be. That was the year that her alias, Snail Mail, burst onto the scene with the raw, yet fully-formed intensity of her Habit EP, followed by the release of her debut album Lush in 2018. Lush hit the world like a bomb, bringing critical acclaim to Jordan that, by her accounts, was overwhelming — she remarked in a recent Pitchfork piece that “We were children when we started that tour [behind Lush] and adults when we came out of it.” After a brief stint in rehab and relative silence from Jordan following a tour that seemingly lasted for forever, Snail Mail’s sophomore outing Valentine is yet another massive step up for the critically-adored artist, incorporating new synthy and RnB influences around her brutally honest guitar-driven style of music.

 

 

Lead single “Valentine” begins the album and provides a thrilling thesis statement for the rest of its runtime. Beginning with a droning synth line, the song wraps its way through Jordan’s sudden ascent to fame and the impact it had had on a relationship: “Careful in that room / Those parasitic cameras, don’t they stop to stare at you?” The song then explodes into a wall-of-sound chorus that’s become synonymous with Snail Mail, with Jordan begging “So why’d you wanna erase me, darling valentine?” It’s an instant contender for the song of the year, and it’s not even the best song on the album.

 

 

Producer Brad Cook and Jordan dwelled on this album for nearly two years, and it’s evident that this time gave Jordan the opportunity to push her sound in new directions that haven’t been explored on previous Snail Mail records. “Ben Franklin” is built around an industrial bassline that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Nine Inch Nails album, and “Forever (Sailing)” incorporates a sample — Madleen Kane’s “You and I” — in a way that sounds like it was pulled from the playbook of Massive Attack. The only backlash that I ever heard of Lush was that it was one-note — every song followed the same guitar-driven thoroughline. Valentine obliterates this idea; every song pushes and pulls in a new way, whether it’s the soft, acoustic lament of “c. et. al” or the growling stomp of late-album highlight “Automate”. Lyrically, Jordan’s heart is on full display throughout the runtime of Valentine. As previously mentioned, the record highlights her sudden rise to fame, but Jordan also returns to her well of heartbreak that made her such an instantly-relatable figure. This record hurts a lot in some places. “Headlock” addresses the feeling of realizing your ex has moved on, with Jordan singing of how she’s “Drinking just to taste her mouth”. The acoustic ballad “Light Blue” has Jordan wanting to “wake up early every day / Just to be awake in the same world as you”, with her emotive rasp making listeners clutch their chest in pain. 

 

 

Valentine’s short run-time (a tight 32 minutes) is its only downfall, but only because Jordan’s secret skill (or maybe it’s not a secret anymore) is making listeners want more. This record is a thrilling step forward for the young singer-songwriter — if this is what she’s creating right now, then the future is looking mighty bright for all of us. We will be her valentine anytime.

Buy or stream Valentine here.

Keep up with Snail Mail: Twitter / Instagram / Facebook

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