Bedroom diary confessionals in indie music can be a risky path for a songwriter to venture down. The wrong delivery can easily put listeners off or give you a feeling the singer is insincere. However when done with conviction, honesty and lyrics that put the listener in the songwriter’s shoes a band can invest a set of songs with an emotional weight that transcends the accompanying guitar, bass and drums. Lindsey Jordan may be only nineteen years old, but as Snail Mail she manages to put together a mature debut album that encapsulates the emotional roller coaster that is suburban teenage life.
Growing up the Maryland suburb of Ellicot City, almost equidistant from Baltimore and Washington DC, Jordan got an early education in indie rock from Mary Timony (Helium, Ex Hex) who gave her guitar lessons. That influence is felt on Snail Mail‘s 2016 lo-fi tinged Habit EP and word of mouth praise eventually spread to the offices of the legendary Matador Records who singed the band while Jordan was barely out of high school.
After a brief introduction “Lush” kicks into gear with the driving single “Pristine“. Post punk chords give way to a truly lush and soaring refrain, even if Jordan‘s lyrics aren’t nearly as up lifting. Soft bending chords introduces Jordan‘s crooning vocals on the following track “Speaking Terms“. Gentle synths take this song into near dream pop territory before turning the tempo on its head for a thrilling crescendo. While the tone and instrumentation of the album stays fairly consistent, it’s these interesting arrangements that keep “Lush” from feeling stale. “Heat Wave” follows with some of the albums sunniest melodies contrasted against the album’s most bruising riffs. More than any other this track shows Snail Mail has the chops to be your next indie guitar hero.
The bouncy folk of “Let’s Find an Out” has a sweet Bert Jansch finger picked guitar and is a welcome surprise after what’s come before. The excellent “Golden Dream” tackles teenage heartbreak and its sobering reality when the chemical comforts subside. Lindsey picks herself up though with the defiant “Full Control“. When she sings “you better get back up” she might be trying to convince herself as much as the listener. The album concludes with the somber “Anytime”, a track that invokes a sense of nostalgia for a moment that hasn’t quite passed. She doesn’t look back as much as question what the future holds.
At the moment though the future seems bright for Snail Mail. “Lush” is giant leap forward from her early EPs and at 19-yrs old there’s is plenty more time for growth.
For fans of: Japanese Breakfast, Soccer Mommy, Frankie Cosmos, Waxahatchee
Highlights: Pristine, Heat Wave, Speaking Terms