The Staged Haze team averages a universal admiration for new records about three times a year. This past Friday was no exception, as arrows pierced our hearts on November 5. With the release of Lindsey Jordan’s sophomore album, Valentine, Jordan upends the dour depths of romance with back-to-back blows—begging for your attention through her half-hour long cathartic release.
Lindsey Jordan culled her nom de plume—Snail Mail—in 2016 after releasing her first EP, Habits. While Habits got the ball rolling, Jordan’s career launched to unforeseen heights after the release of Lush. Moody and confessional, Lush harped on the beauty and rush of love at first sight. Jordan, accepting her self-proclaimed obsessively honest tendencies, crafts a pure and clear dreamscape that feels euphoric.
While Lush focuses on the thrills of romance, Valentine explores the chills. Sonic and thematic maturation governs this sophomore album as Jordan walks beside darker realities, including substance abuse and rehabilitation. Distancing herself from technology for forty-five days allowed Jordan to realign and retool prior to the release of this album.
The album kicks off with the title track “Valentine”—the first teaser released on September 15. This track envelops the bleeding wounds of heartache in a blanket of innocence. Emotions swell into a chaotic pitch when Jordan bellows, “So why’d you want to erase me, darling valentine? / You’ll always know where to find me when you change your mind.” The chorus’ meaning is twofold: first, glaringly accusing a partner for catalyzing her heartache. The honest Jordan fails to align with apathy, always pouring her heart for her significant other. In an article with Pitchfork, Jordan recommends a selective dissemination—offering yourself to fewer people: “I used to go to everybody around me with my emotions but I have to be careful with who I take my truths to. Putting those emotional moments in the wrong hands puts you at risk of starting to hide that part of yourself.”
“Ben Franklin” tags in as Jordan’s second teaser. Originally released on October 13, “Ben Franklin” felt rogue and distant—a new angle from Jordan. After several listens, that was exactly Jordan’s motive. She explores a new sound, dancing away from her comfort zone. The grungy synths and seemingly moot lyrics will take some getting used to, but the track highlights brutal truths, including the only mention of Jordan’s trip to rehab. Jordan feels comfortable accepting her reality on this track, noting its impact felt like a truth bomb.
“Forever (Sailing)” samples Madleen Kane’s “You and I”—paving the way for a deliberately slow confessional. Clocking in as the longest track, Jordan wrestles with the challenge of reaching for a partner that is no longer beside her. This track links to the final track “Mia” that also expresses the manifestation of that “day-after” feeling of disbelief and forlonging. Jordan notes the difficulty in disconnection: “That was so real / And you don’t just forget / So much destruction / Look at what we did.”
Possibly the most intriguing track of the project, Jordan flips off her inner demons on “Madonna.” Having been raised as a faithful Catholic, the religious undertones are earnestly intentional. Jordan utilizes symbols of alters and pedestals to highlight the dangers associated with idolizing a significant other. Guilty all the same, Jordan reconciles her loss. Upbeat instrumentals suggest a turning point—a ray of hope—for the young lover.
While “Madonna” focuses on retribution and revival, “Automate” flashes the opposite token. Moodier piano and bass undertones emphasize one of Jordan’s depressive episodes. As the title suggests, Jordan feels as if she is on autopilot during these times of crisis. Sheer disbelief—this “why me?” mentality—digs a six foot hole in the ground. This seems like a dreary conclusion to what began as an upbeat recounting of events, but fans can find comfort in Jordan’s honest moments. Substances are both the relief and the catalyst for these questionable acts.
Valentine concludes with the aforementioned “Mia.” This track, latching onto the perils from the previous “Automate” is the slowest and quietest note on the album. Jordan paints the scene—lying in bed after a relationship’s end. Watching your constant contact with your significant other fade into radio silence ails the mind and the soul. Jordan suggests you’ll ache, you’ll grieve—but you’ll survive.
Overall, Valentine is a bloody and raw confessional from the now 22-year-old frontwoman of Snail Mail. While love can breed the most powerful highs, it can also leave us in the lowest of lows. Lindsey Jordan accurately portrays the rollercoaster ride associated with modern romance. Jordan’s approach to this album is commendable, as she openly aches for the masses.
Valentine is available now.