Review- Valentine by Snail Mail

I swear every time I see a successful creative artist my age, I get a pang of jealousy. But it’s hard not to be inspired. Snail Mail is an indie rock solo project, created by singer/songwriter/guitarist Lindsey Jordan. Jordan started releasing music at 17, and is currently 22, ‘Valentine’ being her sophomore album. Popular for her levels of heartbreak and anger, Snail Mail could be compared to PJ Harvey in vocal manner, or being a grungier version of other indie favourites such as King Princess.  Being a fan of Snail Mail for a few years, I was feeling a bit disappointed about the new album feeling more polished and less raw than older tracks. Although I’m still a fan of the depth of Jordan’s lyrical content, which is often poetic. I’m aware this whole paragraph makes me sound like an indie boy introducing you to Tame Impala, but if there’s one thing a music review isn’t, it’s self-aware.

  Valentine – The album’s self-torture of heartbreak starts in the middle of a difficult relationship. The one-sided romance begs for the other persons attention, (“can’t love for us both”). Each gentle verse with background synths builds up to a dramatic, rock heavy chorus of anger. The music video of Valentine centres on a secret lesbian romance, and shows dramatic fits of rage as bloody food fights in Victorian costumes. Very relatable to be honest. Unfortunately, the narrative doesn’t learn from their toxic cycles and ends the song in a brutally honest, yet heart breaking: “No, I can’t hate you. I’d ruin me for you. Blame me if you need to. But I adore you. I adore you. I adore you. I adore you.”

  Ben Franklin – Ben Franklin gets even more ugly in its honesty. Jordan is definitely not asking for sympathy, despite mentioning her experience with rehab. The funky bass line, with more of a pop music beat than Valentine, distracts from the lyrics’ toxic reminiscence of someone who repeatedly hurt Jordan: “Gunna leave a stain, like a relapse does when you really try”. To the most hideous line in the album: “Sometimes I hate her just for not being you”.

  Headlock – The album starts to take a breezier turn. As the muse has moved on, the tone becomes more quiet and sad, than upset and angry.

  Light Blue – Suddenly everything is completely fine. This sweet lullaby was written for Jordan’s girlfriend at the time. Stringed instruments join the album, as the style changes briefly. Without a chorus, Light Blue feels more like a love poem.

  Forever (Sailing) – But the bliss doesn’t last forever. Forever (Sailing) is probably my least favourite purely for the return of the synths that make the whole song seem samey and not very memorable. The dreamy layering of vocals fades the song out into…

  Madonna – … THE SEXIEST INTRO ON THE ALBUM.

  c. et al. – The vocals of this song feel the most like Jordan’s earlier music. The dragged-out notes being like Heat Wave and Pristine from her album ‘Lush’ (2018).

  Glory – The song bounces back and forth from light rock to being as grunge as Nirvana in the refrain “you owe me, you own me

  Automate – Automate gets a bit darker, “black lips, dark room. I pretend it’s you”, creates a very visual scene of doing something you’re not meant to. Although at this point in the album I don’t feel like many songs past Light Blue have been individually distinguishable.

  Mia – Mia gives the relentless heartbreak (ignoring Light Blue) of the album a hopeful ending. Even though you are moving on from someone, it is still possible to love them. Mia goes into that specific kind of heartbreak, as acceptance of the albums’ emotions.

— Faith Dale-Hughes

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