Snail Mail – ‘Lush’ review

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19-year-old Lindsey Jordan's debut album is a monument to the process of growing up

Lindsey Jordan is not your average teen musician. The Baltimore 19-year-old, who is the driving force behind Snail Mail, has gone from learning classical guitar aged five to playing in local coffee shops at 11, being given further guitar lessons by indie-rock hero Mary Timony (Ex Hex, Helium, Autoclave, Wild Flag) and, now, signing a deal with well-respected indie Matador.

Before today (June 8), she only had one release to her name – 2016 EP ‘Habit’, which she wrote when she was 15. A bedroom-recorded lo-fi wander through her heart, it was poetic and impressive, but also full of melodramatic woe. Two years on from its release, debut album ‘Lush’ still mines a similar path but delivers the results in a more self-aware, refined way.

One of the most surprisingly beautiful parts of growing up is the rate at which you can contradict yourself. ‘Lush’ subtly demonstrates that at several turns. ‘Pristine’, its first full song, does that in seconds. One moment, it’s wise in its acknowledgment of a failing relationship, accepting a break-up isn’t an immediate end to feelings and thoughts (“I’ll still see you in everything tomorrow”), the next it’s angsty and na├»ve in its stubborn declarations of love. “I know myself and I’ll never love anyone else,” Lindsey asserts on its chorus.

Even over the course of the album, her latter statement doesn’t hold true for long. ‘Lush’ is a document of her ever-changing attitude and experiences in her first year of young adulthood. Where others might try and hide some of their past sentiments, she leaves them intact as a monument to the process of growing up and becoming your own person. On the spiky ‘Heat Wave’, she’s praying for blissful ignorance, hoping to “never get a clue”, but by the album’s end, she’s ready to let go, realising it’s for the best. “You could waste your whole life anyways/But I want better for you,” she sighs on ‘Anytime’, her sad epiphany sparking the entry of a gorgeously shimmering synth line seconds later.

Where ‘Habit’ was scratchy and DIY to its core – a product of the limited tools Lindsey had at her disposal – ‘Lush’ is slick and glossy, without losing any of the little ticks that made Snail Mail stand out in the first place. ‘Let’s Find An Out’ positions her as a finger-picking, heartbroken country lamenter, while on ‘Stick’ she’s the master of swelling, stadium-sized sorrow.

Right now, Lindsey Jordan is being lifted up as the next gatekeeper of indie-rock. One (very good) album feels a little too early to coronate her just yet, but ‘Lush’ is setting its creator on the right path, at least.

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