It’s not like this needs to be restated, but being a teenager is cool. Adolescence is full of unnecessarily intense and embarrassing experiences that shape the rest of your life. It’s often forgotten though, in the race to grow up, the odd beauty and shame of that period of your life. Things are put aside, left for years down the road, to be expressed in the words of someone a little older and wiser — but not for Lindsey Jordan of Snail Mail. Her debut album Lush is a remarkably candid, emotionally developed record that speaks to and from a teenage heart.
What separates Jordan from your average adolescent with a guitar and a taste for rock music is her ability to create songs that are aware of their emotion and power, but never get too self-absorbed. “Pristine” is one of the finest examples of this: Jordan repeatedly dismisses her feelings with “anyways, anyways,” but she’s still going to say and ask for what she wants. In the chorus she whines “and I know myself and I’ll never love anyone else,” but in the outro she finds peace, saying “I’ll still love you the same.” The acknowledged melodrama of “Pristine” is a perfect teenage moment, that experience of being 15 when everything is new and awful and exciting, when there’s always something to feel.
Jordan still remains first and foremost a guitarist, and Lush is rife with moments of plush guitar playing that don’t make a big deal of themselves. “Heat Wave” springs to life with a convulsive riff that cuts right through the track and gets everything going. The picking pattern on “Let’s Find An Out” is as contemplative and pained as the sentiment behind the song. The slogging chords of “Deep Blue” pair well with Jordan’s wails of “it took so long to know someone like you.”
The core of Lush lies in the three-track run of “Let’s Find An Out,” “Golden Dream” and “Full Control,” where Jordan is at her most energetic and dynamic. “Let’s Find An Out” is one of the most poignant tracks on the album, which is surprising considering its brevity and lack of chorus. In it, Jordan mourns a stagnant relationship, struggling to find a resolution. On “Golden Dream,” a little more up-tempo, Jordan remembers who she is, finds an answer within herself and delivers one of the most cutting lines on the album: “God around your neck, he never did too much for you.” “Full Control” finishes this self-affirming trio, where Jordan asserts she’s her own person: “Even when it’s love, / Even when it’s not.”
Lush gets a little weighed down at the end, with “Deep Blue” and “Anytime” being both some of the longest and slowest tracks on the record, but it’s not enough to leave a real mark on the album’s quality. On “Deep Blue,” Jordan repeats a phrase from “Pristine” almost word-for-word: “We can be anyone.” The repetition is infrequent enough to be a mistake, but the phrase seems like a summary of Lush as a whole — standing on the edge of adulthood, full of energy and emotion and the realization that life has hardly started.