mon 10/12/2018

CD: Snail Mail - Lush | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Snail Mail - Lush

CD: Snail Mail - Lush

Sadness and shred in equal measure on Baltimore teen’s debut

Lush: an ode to summer heartache

Lindsey Jordan was 16 when she released her first EP as Snail Mail on her local punk label Sister Polygon Records. Two years later, she has graduated from high school and signed to Matador Records, home of Stephen Malkmus, Kurt Vile and Helium. Lush is Jordan’s debut full-length album, which she describes as being “more deliberate” than her previous work.

The record starts as it means to go on: unapologetically sad. This is a break-up album, and the painful confusion of young love rings through with every chord. A melancholic intro paves the way for “Pristine”, the first of many great pop songs on Lush. Jordan’s voice is lilting and earnest, while her lyrics could be pages torn from a diary, or an internal monologue she lets us eavesdrop on. “And if you do find someone better, I’ll still see you in everything / Tomorrow and all the time,” fosters the all-encompassing tunnel-vision of teenage infatuation. But there’s a brilliant self-awareness to the chorus – “And I know myself, and I’ll never love anyone else / I won’t love anyone else.” Jordan knows she’s indulging in melodrama, and it’s not always clear if her heart is on her sleeve, or her tongue is in her cheek.

Lush transports you back to a time when every crush is a matter of life or death. The sentiment may be ugly, but there’s a magic in Jordan’s songwriting that prevents the album from being a 10-track downer: it’s actually a gorgeous listen. Songs like “Heat Wave” and “Stick” are slow-burners, coming close to the five-minute mark, but they fly by; clever verses lead to scathing bridges and stunning, cathartic choruses with real shimmers of euphoria.

Jordan recalls that writing “Heat Wave” was painful, "like puking onto paper, and crying, ‘This girl hurt my feelings!’". But the real heart-stopper is “Let’s Find An Out”, which puts her trademark strumming and shredding aside to firmly place her childhood classical guitar training at the fore (she started lessons at the age of five). Lo-fi closer “Anytime” has the same sense of escapism that runs throughout the album, making it the perfect soundtrack to long summer drives. Lindsey Jordan is a breath of fresh air, and Lush is an album worth coming back to.

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