Snail Mail: Valentine (Matador) | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Tuesday, December 5th, 2023  

Snail Mail



Nov 04, 2021 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Under the semi-ironic stage name Snail Mail, Maryland-born singer/songwriter Lindsey Jordan constructs cerebral, approachable indie rock worthy of her delicate, prodigious veneer. To most, her 2018 debut Lush heralded the arrival of indie’s next whiz kid. On her long-awaited second album, Valentine, carefully arranged love songs are placed on a glasslike pedestal and surrounded by confident, unobtrusive vocal performances, the likes of which fans have come to love and appreciate.

There are times on Valentine when Jordan very clearly plays it safe and sticks to her guns; on “Glory,” she harkens back to the Lush song “Speaking Terms” and channels her breathy self on “Headlock.” These songs could have very well fit in nicely on Lush in all of their simple and straightforward glory. In that sense, Valentine is a bit underwhelming, since it doesn’t see her take any monumental steps forward in terms of musical or compositional complexity.

But even in its sometimes underwhelming safety, there are some truly spectacular moments, with the buzzy creaks of “Light Blue” and the beautiful “Mia” among them. On “c. et al.,” Jordan brings us right up to her aged acoustic guitar, taking all the energy out of her voice to give a gorgeously exhausted performance. “Madonna” is, similarly, a welcome change of pace, with its smooth, off-kilter melodies framing relaxed and warbly verses.

Of course, Jordan’s first kick at the can was already so mature that it was almost unrealistic to expect her to exponentially jump to even deeper levels of narrative insight and expanse. Given that, some of its safer (and, at times, lacklustre) choices are still executed well, it’s hard to holistically criticize the album’s approach.

Like many sophomore efforts, Valentine is an incremental improvement on what was already a solid foundation. This isn’t a new version of Lindsey Jordan. Instead, we’re witnessing a slow but sure march towards a Lindsey Jordan that is more confident, more sure of herself, and more heartbreakingly honest in her delicate songwriting. No Snail Mail fans are going to be shocked or shaken by Valentine’s 10 tracks, but they’ll definitely be delighted at their continued elegance. (

Author rating: 7.5/10

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