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Snail Mail’s Valentine was released on Nov. 5, 2021 (Photo provided via @stereogum on Twitter).

Album Review: Snail Mail’s 'Valentine' is heartbreak at its prettiest

When Snail Mail released its debut album Lush in 2018, it took the indie world by storm. On the album, guitarist and singer-songwriter Lindsey Jordan, the frontwoman of the project, wailed of heartbreak and queer relationships over illustrious guitars and unforgettable melodies. 

Jordan made it her mission to stray away from the mopey, lo-fi style that floods the alternative scene today. With a wall of sound driven by layers of crunchy down strums making up her sound, her catalogue is reminiscent of her early alternative influences, such as Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine. 

While Jordan’s first album was sonically astonishing and lyrically introspective, there were still signs of an artist with maturing to do. Now, it seems as though that growth has been completed with the release of the project’s sophomore full-length LP, Valentine

The new album marks Jordan reaching for sounds beyond her guitar and exploring different styles than the one that skyrocketed her into indie stardom. 

From the release of the first two supporting singles, “Valentine” and “Ben Franklin,” one could tell that they were in for something different. The latter of the two shows, Jordan trading in her axes for synths over a danceable groove that sounds like it's straight off of an 80s disco hit. 

Diversity is really the name of the game for Jordan’s songwriting on this project as she weaves from post-punk banger to acoustic ballad to synth-pop anthem over the course of just 30 minutes. Songs like “Glory” and the title track that remind you of the typical Snail Mail sound contrast with emotional acoustic heartbreakers like “Light Blue” and “Mia.” 

Not only does Jordan step outside of her comfort zone sonically, but also lyrically. On this album, it sounds as if Jordan has really found her voice as a songwriter. This album is really about heartbreak and obsession. While further covering themes she had touched upon in her first album, Jordan shows that she is more comfortable writing about deeper and darker topics.

Jordan’s maturation as a songwriter shows on the song “Headlock,” which at first sounds welcoming and poppy. However, the track actually sees Jordan explaining being so caught up in a lost love to the point of wanting to die: “Thought I’d see her when I died / Filled the bath up with warm water / Nothing on the other side.” 

Overall, Snail Mail’s experimentation with new musical styles and even more introspective lyrics makes for one of the most exciting and progressive indie records of the year. Valentine is an absolute must-listen for fans of any type of music. 

With that being said, here are some of the stand out tracks:

Valentine

The title track and leading single of the album is a thesis statement for the direction that Jordan wanted to go in on this project. At some points, it's gentle and dark before it briefly picks up with a blast of energy for the chorus. 

The song sees Jordan confused as to why her lover left her despite how much she adores her: “Now I can’t hate you / I ruined me for you / Blame me if you need to / But I adore you.” 

Forever (Sailing)

Groovy and soulful, this track is the closest thing on the album to an R&B anthem. This song is a representation of the singer’s willingness to write in completely different styles. Jordan’s vocal performance on the tune is one of the finest you’ll hear as it tells the story of a love she keeps trying to make happen, despite it being bound to fail. 

Madonna

Continuing with her stylistic experimentation, “Madonna” will both make you bob your head and reexamine what a relationship is. As Jordan said herself, “Madonna” is “about why love can’t exist between a person and a concept of a person. Remove the pedestal and you might realize there was never anything.” 

Mia

Closing the album with one of the most emotional and tender tales of heartbreak out there, “Mia” sees Jordan struggling to get over a recent end of a relationship. With a sound that could have been off of a later Beatles album, this song is sure to leave you in tears. 

Both in terms of her instrumentation and lyrics, this is one of Jordan’s most mature compositions in her discography and is a marker of her tremendous development as a songwriter. 

Rating: 4.5/5

@_tannerharris_

th393721@ohio.edu

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