Snail Mail's debut album, Lush, is an emotional and authentic look at the modern teenage experience.
Lindsey Jordan, songwriter and frontperson for Snail Mail, has made rapid strides in the last year, having only previously released one EP — 2016's Habit. Since then, she has signed with Matador, played at Coachella, embarked on a cross-country headlining tour, and had a chat with Liz Phair, whose music she once played in a cover band called Lizard Phair. It has been a rapid ascension for Jordan, still only 18, but one that is entirely deserved, especially with the arrival of her first full-length.
The powerful record showcases Jordan's blunt songwriting and vocal delivery as she explores young love, heartbreak, growing older, and moving on from people she no longer needs or wants in her life. She sings on "Golden Dream," for example, "I'm not yours / Know when I mean it I'm not wasted anymore," as she laments what she never had but recognizes it's time to leave those lamentations behind.
Singles "Heat Wave," "Pristine," and "Let's Find an Out" shine, but the album is remarkably strong throughout, with no song feeling out of place. Jordan's guitar growls underneath vocals that drift seamlessly from low drones to higher-pitched deliveries bordering on shouts, with awareness and control to tailor her voice perfectly at each moment. With that control, she manages to instantly evoke heartache, loneliness, anger, and simple boredom.
Jordan's lyrics are often remarkably candid. She sings, for example, "And it's a hard trip to the kitchen sink / Cause' I can't wash this one clean," evoking a feeling of being covered in an inescapable pain or grief. She pairs these lyrics with punchy, emotive arrangements, calling to mind early Liz Phair tracks like "Alice Springs" or "Strange Loop," as she lays her emotions bare for all to hear. Jordan manages to always feel more assertive than vulnerable, however, even when she asks questions like, "Don't you like me for me?" They come across less as pleas than as bemused statements, anthemically proclaiming that she is bored of trying to earn affection falsely. Jordan's wisdom — and sometimes jadedness — belies her age, and that is an immense credit to her ability and courage to tap into her own experiences while presenting them universally.
The record only features one re-release from Habit, an expanded version of the EP's ender "Stick," and that is where Jordan's development in the last two years may be most clear. With more powerful vocals and the addition of a full band behind her, the song takes on a very different tone, moving from an intimate view of someone processing grief in solitude to an almost pissed-off anthem shouting at those who hurt her or do not understand what it means to be truly wronged. The transition from that track's abrupt, wailing end into the beautiful, reverb-heavy guitar on "Let's Find an Out" reminds listeners of Jordan's breadth as a songwriter. She is equally adept at producing a belting, angry rock song as she is at deftly captivating with arrangements featuring almost nothing but her vocals and gorgeous fingerpicked guitar.
The indie rock landscape of the last 20 years has been dominated by white men. However, there is a movement underfoot with female artists like Courtney Barnett, Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker, Japanese Breakfast, Lucy Dacus, and Jay Som leading a new wave. On Lush, Jordan has staked a claim to join those leaders.
Pick up Lush on Amazon and stream on all major services via Matador.
For tour dates and more information, check out Snail Mail's Zumic artist page.