Snail Mail captures heartbreak and desire with ‘Valentine’


Mike Maguire | Wikimedia Commons

Alyssa Leli

It seems as though love has not gotten any easier for Lindsey Jordan as she explores heartbreak on her sophomore album, “Valentine.”

Over the past three years, Jordan, who goes by Snail Mail, has drawn in a multitude of fans who felt compelled to her vulnerability about queer love and heartbreak.

Her debut album, “Lush,” released in 2018, established her as a leader in the next generation of indie rock. The dreamy sounding guitar mixed with lyrics about being a love-sick teenager made for the perfect coming of age album.

Now, with the release of “Valentine,” Jordan’s journey of romantic grief continues with a more mature and heavier sound.

The title track opens the album, starting off slow, drowning in synths and building up to the explosive chorus where she belts “So why’d you wanna erase me, darling valentine?” Jordan sings about betrayal and the desire for an ex-lover—a recurring theme on this album.

In November  2020, Jordan went to rehab in Arizona for 45 days. While there, she procured an acoustic guitar and began writing lyrics in her journal. After rehab, she ended up back in her childhood bedroom where she wrote most of “Valentine,” referencing her time spent there on tracks such as “Ben Franklin.”

“Ben Franklin,” is another synth-driven track where she sings about a toxic relationship, with the lyrics, “Raised your voice to me/ The second time I had to make myself believe/ I deserve it, I’m crazy.” Jordan continues to yearn for her ex-lover with the lyrics “Moved on, but nothing feels true/ Sometimes I hate her just for not being you.”

The track, “Headlock,” includes the heaviest and darkest lyrics on the album, “Thought I’d see her when I died/ Filled the bath up with warm water/ Nothing on the other side.”

“I’m a deeply sensitive person, and the idea of going all the way down into the pitch darkness and messing with those possibilities is liberating. To be able to talk about it and come out the other side is, to me, the ultimate form of recovery and growth. So that song let me go as dark as I possibly could so I could come out on the other side,” Jordan said when asked about these lyrics in an interview with Pitchfork.

“Light Blue” is possibly Jordan’s only song that’s solely about being in love. It is a sweet, acoustic guitar track that was written for her girlfriend when she was 19 years old. She expresses her adoration for her girlfriend, singing, “I wanna wake up early every day/ Just to be awake/ In the same world as you,”

Jordan sings about her personal boundaries when it comes to being in the spotlight on a few tracks off of “Valentine,” including “c. et al.” On this acoustic guitar track, she sings, “Even with a job that keeps me movin’/ Most days I just wanna lay down/ Sleep it away till it’s nothin’ and/ Pull the blinds all the way down, down, down.”

She ends the album with  the track “Mia,” where she sings about the aftermath of losing a romantic relationship. She describes the empty feeling of existing without the person one loved the most, “Isn’t it strange/ The way it’s just over?/ No late night calls/ You’re not here to walk me to my door,” and yearning for that person back, “But I wish that I/ Could lay down next to you.”

Jordan took the chaotic mess of heartbreak and the process of healing to create a beautiful and transparent album. Her lyricism and overall sound have evolved since “Lush,” but she is still burdened by heartache and the desire for love.