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(pastemagazine.com)

Snail Mail’s glowing tribute to adolescence

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Teenagers often spend their formative years in a state of emotional limbo; no longer children, but not quite adults. From this place, wonderfully moving art has been produced. At the age of 19, Baltimore native Lindsey Jordan has managed to emerge as a potential threat to songwriters everywhere as Snail Mail, her high school band, is now signed to legendary indie rock label Matador Records. Lush, her most recent release, is a rare thing: A near-perfect debut album.

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what makes Lush so utterly enchanting: Maybe it’s Jordan’s deft lyricism, or maybe it’s her natural ability as a guitarist. Regardless, it’s difficult to listen to Lush and not feel transported to the liminal world of suburbia that teenagers tend to inhabit. Throughout the ten tracks, Jordan races through the uncertainties and joys unique to adolescence with the wit of someone wise beyond her years. Each crescendo and pause is deliberate. In “Stick,” Jordan’s impeccable delivery of what could have been a throw-away question—“And did things work out for you? / Or are you still not sure what that means?”—is a punch straight to the gut. Through this attention to detail, Lush harkens to a world of monotonous high school parties, summer heartbreak, and endless daydreaming.

Lush could easily have been dismissed as the latest in a long line of over-saturated coming-of-age indie-pop albums (looking at you: Foster the People and MGMT), but Jordan’s reflexivity as a lyricist elevates the album. “Pristine” is an achingly self-aware anthem about unrequited love in which Jordan lets herself feel both angry and hurt, chastising herself for her naivety. It’s an internal debate almost everyone has had. After every chorus, there is a cathartic silence that deepens the impact of the noise that surrounds it. By playing with the absence of sound, and juxtaposing silence with Jordan’s raw vocals, the sonic contrast is introspective. Ultimately, Lush captures what it is to be young: To feel so little, when everything around you seems so big.

Stand-Out Tracks: “Pristine,” “Anytime,” “Heat Wave”

★★★★½

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