New Music Reviews

Snail Mail’s Valentine: Love’s Darker Side

Lindsey Jordan, aka Snail Mail, has followed up her groundbreaking debut Lush with the newly released title track of her upcoming record Valentine. If the rest of the record lives up to this title track release, we are set for another solid record within the indie rock landscape.

Jordan released Lush in 2018 when she was 18, and it felt like a coming of age record. However, the success of the record, and the indie phenom status placed on Jordan, landed her in a recovery centre where she started writing Valentine. What comes through the track is a lower vocal tone and a more mature writing style. Much like Lorde, Taylor Swift, Arlo Parks and Billie Eilish, Snail Mail takes a new look at fame with a critical lens. Gender and fame are objects meant to be deconstructed and evaluated, as opposed to internalised and seen as defining aspects of the self.

This brings us to her new release Valentine. Jordan sings about “parasitic cameras” in a clear reference to the soul sucking vampiric nature of fame. However, she then moves to an unhealthy love affair where she is being “erased” by the other, but still cannot help but “adore” that person. In this sense, her love is self – destructive, which harkens back to the self – destructive nature of fame. Within Valentine love and destruction are two sides of the same coin and are equally powerful.

Musically, think of Liz Phair and Lorde with a dash of Nirvana and The Pixies. Valentine’s lyrical structure resembles Lorde’s and Phair’s dark deconstructing of societal norms as Jordan pins love down like a frog in high school biology. This darkness is set against a Smells Like Teen Spirit / Debaser vibe where she moves from a somber ballad verse to an electric indie pop punk chorus. The soft verse / loud chorus structure was a hallmark of The Pixies’ late 80s work, which Nirvana blew out to 11 on Nevermind in 1991. This song structure was not invented by Nirvana and the Pixies, but they had the strongest contrast between ultra stripped back verses and hyper distorted choruses. Jordan perfectly delivers on this structure with lush electronic beats and percussion far back in the mix during the verse, which is steamrolled by thrashing electric guitar up front of the mix in the chorus. Such a song structure becomes more apparent when you listen to Smells Like Teen Spirit and Valentine back to back. Jordan is definitely challenging her inner 90s alt rocker, but putting a modern indie singer songwriter spin on it, which makes the track intoxicating.

Snail Mail is a creative force within women indie rockers that needs to be taken seriously. Much like Lorde, you get the feeling that the sky is the limit for this talented artist. Valentine is a top 10 track of 2021 and combined with her work on Lush, you feel like you are on the ground floor of an amazing musical career.

Listen to Valentine

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