Snail Mail – Lush

When Lindsey Jordan dropped her Habit EP as Snail Mail in 2016, it seemed as though the industry had a strong desire to make her the next big thing. She’s young and seems to have a better grasp of life than most of her seniors. There’s a relatable sense to her, the teenager we all wanted to be. She’s been supported from all over, from mainstream press to indie mags: she’s the artist that a lot of people think is needed right now, a superhero for the social media generation. This all adds up to setting a huge and possibly unfairly high bar for her debut record Lush.

What strikes me first about Lush is that it feels like the record Snail Mail wanted to make. It feels like a genuine reflection of what people think they know about Jordan and captures a songwriter on the brink of something great. It has all the sensibilities of a bedroom rock album; you could almost imagine the walls it was composed behind, you can picture Jordan writing these songs with her feet up on a chair, just spilling off the top of her head.

Lindsey’s vocal is what really manages to prod you emotionally. Her delivery sounds like someone finding their own voice. At times it’s like a relaxed growl, or something soothingly sore. It sounds raw and cathartic. Lush comes across like an exercise in emotional expulsion. Its emotional engagement is one Jordan is in full control of; it never spills out into something dramatic and hyperbolic. It’s the authenticity and feeling of honesty in the songs that pull you in deep, like a friend telling you their troubles.

The calm feel of Lush is what makes it so different. It isn’t over egged in any way and there isn’t any track that demands attention. There’s something slightly sombre in the music, a lull feeling. You get this impression immediately from the minute-long ‘Intro’ of the album. It’s not as though the music is depressing, these feelings are all met with relief. The chorus of ‘Pristine’ is a great example: “Don’t you like me for me/ Is there any better feeling than coming clean?” is sung in such a way that it’s almost uplifting.

From the taste of things that we got on Habit, you could mistakenly go into Lush expecting something more single-heavy. Her breakthrough track ‘Thinning’ was a DIY pop triumph, simplicity done excellently. The songwriting on Lush sounds far more confident and refined, it could easily be her third or fourth album. It is not so much that it’s nailed a unique sound, it’s just very sure of itself. ‘Let’s Find An Out’ sounds so natural and clean, it’s certainly a song you don’t expect, it’s a stripped back song that flows and unwinds in such a natural cycle. Lush doesn’t seem to be interested in chasing ideas of indie-rock, which is something I’m very glad of. This is a Snail Mail album and not anything else.

Songs like ‘Deep Sea’ feel like some of the album’s deepest. The vocal sounds so raw and untouched you really get a sense of diving into Jordan’s mind. What makes Lush such a successful debut is the feeling that it’s just being itself, not setting a specific goal or capturing a certain genre. All the songs on Lush sound like great closers, they’re all powerful in their own way.

Lush is an incredibly accomplished debut that makes the hype surrounding Snail Mail justified. Against all the mass press hype and attempts to pigeonhole Jordan, she’s come out with something true to herself. Lush is an introduction to the songwriting of Lindsey Jordan that leaves her path open to explore any avenues she pleases.

Chris Middleton