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Album Review: Snail Mail Turns Teenage Heartbreak into Gold on Lush

One of the most engaging and relatable indie rock debuts in quite some time

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    The Lowdown: Eighteen-year-old Lindsey Jordan (also known as Snail Mail) has been steadily gaining a dedicated following over the last few years, and with Lush, she finally delivers her debut album, a master class in how to grow out of a DIY scene without losing any of the raw charm that turned heads in the first place.

    The Good: Though it’s well-worn territory, Jordan writes about teenage heartbreak with more conviction and detail than almost any of her contemporaries, likely because she’s still recovering from her first bout of it. Her lyrics are deceptively complex takes on how brutal it feels to experience a break up for the first time – “And I hope whoever it is/ Holds their breath around you/ Cause’ I know I did.” But unlike so many of her predecessors, she doesn’t attempt to hide behind loud distorted guitars, letting her true feelings and hurting self take the center stage.

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    The Bad: Many critics have compared Jordan’s music to ’90s college rock luminaries like Liz Phair or Helium (whose frontwoman, Mary Timony, was her guitar teacher), and at points, Jordan’s influences seem a bit on the nose. “Anytime” is strikingly similar to Jeff Buckley’s “Lover, You Should Have Come Over” and “Speaking Terms” literally lifts a guitar riff from The Radio Dept’s 2010 song “The Video Dept”. But in each case, Jordan makes the song her own, showing how she can internalize her favorite acts and put her own spin on them.

    The Verdict: Countless young singer-songwriters have written about love, rejection, and the tough reality of moving past what feels like a world-ending breakup, but Snail Mail makes you feel like you’re 18 again, experiencing that gut-punch of a feeling for the first time. But Jordan never lets herself slip into the acoustic guitar-brandishing cliché of an emotional lyricist, rather creating some of the most interesting and melodic guitar lines in recent memory. Lush is one of the most engaging and relatable indie rock debuts in quite some time.

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    Essential Tracks: “Pristine”, “Heat Wave”, and “Anytime”

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