Snail Mail Bares Her Heart on ‘Valentine’

On November 1, 2021

Every week, we tell you about an album we think you need to spend time with. This week’s album is Valentine, the sophomore record from Snail Mail.

Lindsey Jordan’s debut album as Snail Mail rapidly thrust her into the spotlight alongside young artists like Billie Eilish and Khalid in 2018. Lush, it was called — an album that framed the then 18-year-old singer as a promising up-and-comer keeping the nostalgic sounds of indie rock alive. But, as she shared in an interview with Pitchfork, the fear and reality of keeping up with her stardom began to set in. “I had just turned 20 and I was playing songs from when I was 17. I started to be like, ‘Shit, I don’t have an album.’ I was getting really scared,” Jordan shared.

But, during the years in between, she eventually sprouted the new album, Valentine — an album that is equally a diary, chronicling experiences and channeling them into a catharsis. From the very first song, Snail Mail’s voice wears a telling element that shows she’s been through so much, even at her age. Her vocals are more ragged and sits at just a smidge lower pitch than her debut album. The sentiments are clear in the opening song — she loves hard, and it’s that deep love that sits at the center of the Valentine, opening up the gatefold of her heart and revealing the absolute vulnerability of human emotion.

Backed by powerful chords and crescendos that ultimately strike with an intense force like releasing your body to the forces of gravity on a rollercoaster, there’s a lot to unpack across the 10-track album. It’s mostly a breakup album, but there’s more to it than just the simple heartache following lost love. In the album’s second track, “Ben Franklin,” Jordan briefly sings, “Post rehab, I've been feeling so small.” It’s not a throwaway line without any merit. The singer truly went to rehab in 2020. It’s the brief notes of personal experiences Jordan includes in the album that make it even more bare and heavy-hearted than what meets the eye. Jordan also sings about a problem that plagues many teens who enter the entertainment or music industry — the pressures of growing up under the spotlight and the expectations of pouring out music.

But, as previously mentioned, Valentine is primarily an album of longing for love, breakups and the gritty aspects of romance. Many of the songs like “Light Blue,” “c. et. al” and “Mia” come across as quiet ballads with Jordan’s voice sailing across guitar plucks while songs like “Valentine,” “Ben Franklin” and “Madonna” give the album its indie rock vibes Snail Mail is known for.

Through it all, Jordan wears her heart so openly through the 10-track album. While there are moments where her sorrow can so deeply impact the listener, there are also moments where you can simply appreciate the shared experiences.

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Jillian Nguyen

Jillian's origin story began with jam sessions to early 2000s Eurodance tunes, resulting in her current self-proclamations as an EDM aficionado. Jillian has followed her favorite artists to over 15 music festivals and countless concerts.

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