Snail Mail, the brainchild of 22-year-old Lindsey Jordan, released their second studio album, Valentine, on Nov. 5. Throughout the album, Jordan takes listeners on an emotional rollercoaster through the stages of grief that immediately follow a breakup. Lyrics that are both clever and emotionally raw give the listener the impression that they’re witnessing Jordan traverse her emotions in real time.
Jordan previously received critical acclaim for debut album, “Lush,” which she released at the age of 18. Now, on sophomore album Valentine, Jordan expands upon her previous sound with visceral lyrics, moody vocals and forays into synth and strings. Even the mixing marks a change from her previous record; on Valentine, Jordan’s voice is louder in comparison to the instrumentals than it was on “Lush,” making her sound closer and more immediate to the listener.
On titular track Valentine, Jordan swiftly moves from sulking verses to cacophonies of emotion at each chorus, resulting in a listening experience that remains as interesting on the tenth go-round as it was on the first. The song hurtles between emotional extremes, making it the perfect opener to a precarious heart breaker of an album. Her new propensity for synth is also made clear, a marked change from her guitar-driven album “Lush.”
On standout single “Ben Franklin” Jordan initially feigns indifference towards an ex but ultimately owns her feelings of jealousy and regret. “Sometimes I hate her just for not being you,” she admits, as one of many confessional lines that nonchalantly pack a punch. Lyrically, Jordan steps out of her comfort zone to speak about her feelings of vulnerability after rehab. Fittingly, in the accompanying music video Jordan once again steps out of her comfort zone by dancing around with a giant snake. Throughout the song, her matured voice vividly conveys her sense of rejection.
When drawn out for extended whines, Jordan’s hoarse voice occasionally borders on grating. As a whole, though, her rough edge benefits the album by giving it an intimate and gritty feel, and she is able to shift towards a softer approach for gentler songs like “Headlock” and “Light Blue.”
On “Light Blue,” dreamlike strings accompany Jordan as she expresses her desire to spend every moment with a lover, repeatedly assuring them that nothing will stop her. Although its repetitive nature may wear on some listeners, it effectively underscores her dogged commitment to her partner (or ex-partner).
On “Forever (Sailing),” Jordan makes a quick dip into yacht rock to describe a lover she still feels an unhealthy obsession for, despite their relationship falling apart. Her experimentation with different genres allows her songs to fully embody different emotions and experiences.
Jordan delivers religious imagery on “Madonna,” a song that is simultaneously lowkey and catchy. “Divine intervention was too much work,” she quips, as she compares her lover to a religious deity and mourns their ill-fated relationship. In addition to serving as a cautionary tale against idolizing a person and putting them on a pedestal, the upbeat drums and clever lyrical approach make the song a fun listen.
“C. et. al.,” Glory,” and “Automate” continue the album’s pattern of personal confessions set to different genres while still maintaining the cohesive structure of the album. Jordan’s songwriting is consistently tight and emotionally sharp.
On the final track of the album, “Mia,” Jordan describes the feeling of shock one might experience the day after a relationship ends. Despite it being an abrupt finish for the album’s emotional narrative, an end to Jordan’s grief is in sight: “I love you forever / But I’ve gotta grow up now / No I can’t keep holding on to you anymore / Mia, I’m still yours.” This seemingly contradictory sendoff indicates that she has begun to accept the relationship’s demise, completing her journey through the stages of grief.
As a whole, Valentine is an honest, emotionally charged album. Whether one is a casual listener or in the throes of a devastating breakup, anyone can benefit from taking some time to hear the album in its entirety.
Album- Valentine by Snail Mail
Rating– 5/5 stars
Cost– 15.99 on Amazon
Release date: November 5, 2021
Genre: Indie rock