Snail Mail – Lush review

Secret Meeting score: 81

by Philip Moss

At just 19, Lindsey Jordan aka Snail Mail is very much hot property. She’s had her face on the front of cover of The New York Times and had just about every music journalist wanting a piece of her at this year’s South By South West festival.

Following Intro’s transistor fizz, Pristine is everything we expect to hear from Greta Kline on her Frankie Cosmos records – shimmering guitars, love-torn lyrics and a gloriously catchy chorus. But unlike Kline, Jordan is happy to let her songs hang around, so as to ensure that the clarity of her message comes through. And while her ear for an arrangement may suggest a songwriter beyond her years – ‘I know myself I won’t love anyone else’, emphasises the naivety of her youth.

Much has been made of the parallels between Jordan and indie legend (and Matador Records labelmate) Liz Phair, and 2016’s Habit EP very much felt like her version of Phair’s The Girly Sound Tapes. But where Phair went back to re-record almost all of the initial lo-fi versions for her debut LP, Exile in Guyville, only Stick re-appears on Lush. However, the new version is very much cleaned up with producer, Jake Aron (Grizzly Bear, Solange, Beth Orton) bringing a clarity in both the instrumentation and vocal takes that is not found in the rough-around-the-edges original.

Despite the front end of the album being loaded with singles, it’s the b-side of the record where Jordan really shows off her songwriting abilities, particularly on the album’s final trio. Full Control, with its power-pop chorus and buzzing guitars, is a single just waiting to happen. Deep Sea is reflective and its extended metaphorical lyrics suggest the young singer’s already experienced relationship woes – ‘Die my love, Breathe in twos and fours / To know what’s worth breathing for / Some days it’s easier than falling asleep’. While Lush’s final song, Anytime, is mournfully melodic and the strongest piece of craftswomanship on the record. Backed by only the gentle strums of her electric guitar, her excellent, emotion-filled voice really shines.

Lush is a record that may, for now, creep a little under the radar and it is definitely one that requires time and space to grow. But give it the chance, and there’s more than enough here to see why she’s worthy of all the plaudits coming her way.

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