On ‘Valentine’, Snail Mail – the solo project of Baltimore’s Lindsey Jordan – showcases a multiplied maturity, reaching heights even greater than her debut ‘Lush’. Sprinkling her crisp indie rock with synths and samples, Jordan takes an unexpected yet welcome turn with ‘Valentine’, making sure not to put off dedicated fans with a complete reinvention. Her voice still takes precedence over instrumental, lyrics rippling with emotional depth and experience.
Album opener and title track ‘Valentine’ is the best example of this, starting slow with ambient synths – Jordan sings “Let’s go be alone / Where no-one can see us, honey” – before an exhilarating, explosive chorus.
Though synthesizers are the most notable addition to Snail Mail’s sound throughout the album, multiple tracks lean towards a folk-adjacent sound. ‘c. et. al.’ stands out in this regard, with Jordan twisting her melancholy vocals to convey a richer range of feeling, accompanying the warmer, acoustic sound. ‘Baby Blue’ is even more raw in this regard, with Jordan’s varied refrain “nothing’s gonna stop me now” standing out as another rich chorus, accompanied with additional strings.
Lyrically, she is explorative, reflective, concise yet still cloaking her feelings with metaphor and simile. Throughout the record, Jordan displays a natural progression of her sound, keeping the same poignance, but fulfilling it differently with more intricate delivery and accompanying production, every breath and semitone measured. The juxtaposition of downbeat acoustic tracks with the more varied, erratic synth-based ones could be jarring for some, and Jordan singing early in most tracks doesn’t help with this.
Though similar subject matter is covered in 'Valentine' as in 'Lush', the reflections sung of on her first album are developed further, mirrored in her fresh sound. 'Headlock' displays her new sonic dissonance, the focus shifting to her instrumental skill as she creates a richly layered wall of sound in combination with the electronic elements. She sings of “another world where we’re together”, delving into fantasy to create a sense of longing.
The album’s final track, ‘Mia’, appropriately acts as closure: Jordan “I can’t keep holding onto you anymore”, displaying her efforts to move on, her voice soft yet anguished with lost love. Though not taking a huge amount of risk with ‘Valentine’, Snail Mail gives us a body of work which will no doubt please dedicated fans of Lush, whilst still carefully introducing electronic elements. Even what Jordan already excelled at – her vocal and lyrical expression, as well as her skill with guitar –does not stagnate, resulting in a fantastic example of how a second album should be.
Dig This? Dig Deeper! Soccer Mommy, Phoebe Bridgers, IDER
Words: Jack Oxford
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