Snail Mail Delivers Love, Growth, and Freedom on Her Sophomore Album 'Valentine'


Photo: Tina Tyrell

November is finally here, which means that it's that time of year again. The leaves are changing, the holidays are fast-approaching, and we're entering a time that can only be described as "emotional spring-cleaning." As we settle down with our significant others (or find ourselves entangled in the throes of cuffing season), many of us are seeking an outlet to both feel and express many of the emotions that we've been withholding throughout the year.

Just in time to epitomize this spiritual catharsis is Maryland's very own Snail Mail, who returns to us today with her sophomore album  Valentine. Snail Mail (née Lindsey Jordan) is certainly not a deep cut, as her spot on the indie- ock Mt. Rushmore has been almost guaranteed since her 2018 debut album  Lush won the hearts (and tears) of many like myself. Back to strengthen her hold on the indie rock canon, Valentine is an emotional epic that sees an older and wiser Jordan reflecting on love, growth, and all of the disillusionment that comes with it.

If you've never listened to a Snail Mail record, then Valentine might be the perfect place to start. If Lush is a record concerned with - and almost paralyzed by - youthful love, self-doubt, and the uncertainty of the future, Valentine reads as a much more tender examination of the ideas that may have plagued a younger Jordan. Her approach to love, as seen on the explosive "Automate" and the downtempo "Light Blue," is equally tender and realistic. She hasn't lost the excitement and jubilance associated with new love, but age has provided wisdom that complicates the perceptions she once held.

Tracks like the hypnotic and densely-layered "Headlock" are testaments to this idea, as Snail Mail's bittersweet and emotive spirit manifests on lines like "Man enough to see this through/Man, I'm nothing without you" and the grim-yet-sobering rumination "Thought I'd see her when I died/Filled the bath up with warm water/ Nothing on the other side." Alongside Snail Mail's expressions of love and devotion appear incredibly thoughtful meditations on the nature of blinding devotion and the anger that soon follows.

"Madonna" and "Glory" are both tracks that deal with the disillusionment, frustration, and rage that are inseparable from an unhealthy faithfulness to something or someone. While the former features laid-back and breezy guitar chords over percussion and lyrics that almost sober the listener up, the latter is an alternative rock banger poised squarely atop a mountain of rage.

Valentine is the perfect reintroduction to one of indie rock’s finest songwriting prodigies. The record's ten tracks feature not only an incredible willingness to take risks but also a seasoned versatility despite its familiar themes of growth, love, and freedom.  

Listen to Valentine  below:

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