If you can describe a preferred genre, how would you? For me, it revolves around alternative or indie music with a female vocalist singing about somewhat sad content with glistening nuances of singer-songwriter-alt-rock of the 90s/00s. And when Snail Mail (Lindsey Jordan) came across the Apple Music feed, I felt a bit of connectivity, amassing into more intrigue. Snail Mail left a positive impression on me, like a spark that made it clique, making it clear they will grow. They return with Valentine, improving on every aspect of the music, between the production and lyricism. It’s a good album that will make noise amongst the mass-indie sphere, and hopefully more with the blessing of getting the Spotify spotlight in Times Square.
Snail Mail delves deeper into their creative graff as they elevate their plateau. They are starting to play around with different soundscapes that breach past a comfort zone, bringing a bit more personality. With the first two songs, “Valentine” and “Ben Franklin,” Snail Mail is working with synths (former) and profound rock complexions (latter), which becomes a little prominent this time around. However, the consistency doesn’t always stay, with an occasional guitar-driven introspective tune here and there – it mystifies you in a shroud of fog before sending you back. In this fog, the ballad-like songs don’t lose as they offer a little more nuance, but you may find yourself wanting to go back to the slightly more adventurous songs. One reason for that feeling stems from Lindsey Jordan’s (Snail Mail) lyricism, and at times more jubilant melodies. “Valentine” speaks on the tender feelings one gets about the love-lost concept, more derivative of Romantic Comedies, except she plays with immersive relativity.
That jubilant nature may not always be apparent, but when Snail Mail makes it so, you’re left feeling a sense of reward and connectivity. Connectivity was never a problem for Snail Mail, but trite depressive overtones on Lush drove home a sense of tedious somberness. Unfortunately, “c. Et Al” treads back into the kind of broad somberness in sound; it isn’t easy to return to unless the broken down nature of the guitar-ballad and poetic nature of the verses delivers substance. It feels more like a journal entry than a song, which poorly contrasts the more jubilant “Madonna” and “Glory.”
When I refer to certain songs as jubilant, they bring slightly livelier energy from Lindsey Jordan while tackling themes like love and relationships and the varying dimension behind the lyrics. “Madonna” sees Snail Mail honing in on themes prevalent to love – more so directed at the idea of love as Lindsey creates these whimsical allusions that overwhelm the limits of the pedestal Lindsey imparts on her hypothetical lover. The title isn’t a reference to the singer, who has countless pop hits about love, sex, and strength, and instead alludes to the original Madonna, which imparts a higher platform onto them. Its beautifully lively guitar riffs and moderately paced percussion patterns add layers of nuance to the production, where the simplicity stands on its own two feet.
“Glory,” on the other hand, contrasts the slightly up-tempo production with these depth-filled thoughts about Lindsey Jordan’s relationships and the power of control. She seems similarly distraught and disenchanted as she realizes what is and isn’t within reach. It controls the way she maneuvers around these complicated themes with an abundance of emotional gravitas. Similar to “Madonna,” the production has the 90s-rock nuance with an up-tick in the tempo. It isn’t at the peak of “Automate,” where the focus is on the percussion patterns, elevating Jordan’s vocals in conjunction with reverb to extend the atmospheric nature. Beyond the production, the complexions on the lyrics as she weaves around these interesting perspectives on themes.
Since her debut, Lush, Snail Mail (Lindsey Jordan) has never had a problem as a writer, showing that it was her strength as an artist then and continues to be so now. These perspectives weave intricate emotional phases, particularly of a relationship, like on “Forever (Sailing),” where she reflects the emotions that come about from the honeymoon phase where lust is unmatched by any hiccups along the way. She delivers a tender vocal delivery while encapsulating our levels of whimsy with the range and reverb. Some moments are similar, but it’s hard to pinpoint them as standouts with the music being fluid from start to finish.
Valentine is an improvement for Snail Mail, with intricate themes and luscious production. Unfortunately, it isn’t for everyone. There are moments of greatness and moments where the music falters due to steering a little close to the comfort zone, but it still works. I implore checking out Snail Mail, as I’ve yet to find any reason myself, regret doing so.