Worth a Thousand Words: Lush by Snail Mail
Lush by Snail Mail: Teen Angst Wrapped in a Pullover Released: June 8, 2018 Label: Matador Records
At only 19, Snail Mail’s Lindsay Jordan has already managed to enter the big leagues of indie rock stardom. Her first full length LP, Lush, is a touching view on youth, and the trials and tribulations that accompany that period of a person’s life.
Before I talk about the music, let’s discuss the band name. “Snail Mail.” Most might know the phrase as a jab at the United States Postal Service, or any delivery service for that matter. In the modern digital age where we can get just about anything instantly, the antiquated physical mail service takes longer than desired to complete a task. But by taking on the moniker, Snail Mail shows that slow isn’t quite a bad thing. Lush is a crooning, lovesick ballad almost the whole way through, with a few tracks sprinkled in that have a little bit more of a kick to them.
Following a short and dreamy intro track, the feelings hit hard on “Pristine.” I feel like most everyone can relate to this track; the main character is pining for someone who has left them, but it’s a tough fight because they’re unwilling to change to be with our protagonist, and instead they both choose to stay stuck in their own world views;
“I'll never get real, and you'll never change to me, 'cause I'm not looking...”
Everyone can relate here, having someone they love so much but are unable to sway because they’re stuck in their own track, unable to see anything past what they want. It’s an uphill battle the whole way for our subject, who after losing her loved one finds that she “... still [sees them] in everything, tomorrow and all the time.” At the end of the day, our author realizes that they’ve just got to let their target go; they’ll never change even if our subject will, and their best option is to just grow up and apart.
If we think of the album as a flowing timeline, then “Speaking Terms” logically comes after the tale told by “Pristine.” Following the breakup told in the first track, Lindsay launches into a slow burn about moving on after a relationship ends, disconnecting from each other for the benefit of both parties. Sometimes reaching a compromise and staying amicable is the best option, but in this case, Lindsay has decided to move on, believing that the pristine relationship she may have once has is now “…all ash and dust.” Defiantly, she stands her ground, choosing to disconnect from her situation and choose her own path in one phrase:
“I won’t let you take me for a ride.”
“Heat Wave” struck a chord with me. It transported me back to a time when I was younger than I am now, albeit not much, mind you. The song repeatedly mentions “green eyes,” obviously referencing Envy, the green-eyed monster. This song is set in the bedroom of our protagonist, possibly still hung up about the love interest that’s been mentioned before in Pristine and again in “Speaking Terms.” After a fever dream, she finds herself still wondering about her lost love, and who they may be with now. She can’t help but feel some attraction still, mixed with lingering feelings of envy:
“And I hope whoever it is, holds their breath around you, 'cause I know I did...”
I think most everyone can relate to that, we’ve all had a high school relationship that ended badly, but because it might have been a “first love” it’s hard to let go of.
Other notable tracks from this album include “Stick,” a song that again discusses sticking around after the end of a bad because we feel obligated to, and “Full Control,” which gives us some closure the story of changing desire and disgust that our main character battles with throughout this album, wherein she finally decides to take control of her life and move on.
All things considered, Lush could quite possibly be my favorite album of 2018. It is a touching, poignant snapshot of one of the most tumultuous, rapidly evolving points in a young person’s life. This collection of slow-burning anthems gives us reason to believe that we’ve got full control over our lives, even if we may feel lost in the tide. Just say the word itself; lush. It flows off the tongue so smoothly, so subtly, that it’s a title befitting this album. A fine example of dreamy, bedroom-rock, Lindsay Jordan has penned a masterpiece at an age where many people are just beginning to start their musical careers. Lindsay puts her guitar first and foremost on Lush, a move that gives the lo-fi sound of the album a bit more definition. Having only been around since 2015 after releasing their first EP, Habits, Snail Mail has already solidified a place in indie rock stardom, and I’m very excited to see where they end up; they certainly seem to have full control over their dreams.