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REVIEW: Snail Mail and the New Generation of Indie Rock Music

December 6, 2018

 It is not often that you see an 18 year old sing on stage about the trials of growing up and changing, and do it so well that you only realize their youth during the quippy meme-culture infused banter between sets. Lindsey Jordan, the singer-songwriter who leads Snail Mail, released “Lush”, the first full length Snail Mail album, off of Matador Records this past June. Snail Mail has been deemed by many one of the big new voices of indie rock, a genre that is returning to the popularity it once had during the 90s. Why Bonnie, the opener for the show, shared a similarly acute connection to indie bands from the past era, with guitar lead vocals and a high energy sound. The pairing of the two bands allowed for audience members to see two sides of a similar coin, Why Bonnie speaking from a slightly older perspective, with more of an indi-pop influence. “Lush” is an album which speaks to teen angst in a gracious and articulate way. The work navigates the trials of being a cooped up and confused high schooler, while recognizing the subtle intricate beauties of figuring it all out for the first time. During Snail Mails show at Gateway City Arts this past weekend, it was clear that a large portion of the audience could relate to this sentiment.


What is particularly astonishing about Jordan’s live performance however, is that as much as she discusses her disappointments and discomforts, she manages to be entirely comfortable on stage, allowing herself to reveal the deeper vulnerabilities within each of her songs. Her recorded work, produced by Jake Aron (who has worked with artists such as Solange and Grizzly Bear), allows for a sense of fuzzy clarity on her albums. Live, Jordan manages to achieve a similar perfection. There is nothing quite like hearing an album countless times, and then seeing it performed live in a way that mimics the recorded version.


While on stage, Jordan reminisced about the last time she performed in Western Mass at 13 Queen, following a performance by Pioneer Valley artist Mal Devisa. She mentioned a time she went to a Smith College party with her bandmates, sharing knowing looks with her bassist and drummer, and then looking out at the crowd with a quippy shrug. Before performing “Pristine”, the lead single off of “Lush”, she opened with the well received comment, “Here’s a gay one for you Western Mass.” Jordan seemed to connect with the audience in a particularly intense way, it seems as though many of her fans are experiencing the narratives of Jordan’s songs at the same time as the artist. It is not often that you find an artist who can publicly speak to the confusing moments you are going through, with an ease and comfortability that is uncanny for a writer so young. The artist has taken the time to pinpoint the important moments in each of her songs, and display them more acutely while performing live. During the last song in the set, “Anytime”, Jordan punctuated particularly poignant lyrics, such as, “in the end you could waste your whole life”, with powerfully bold vocals and a simple and kind acoustic guitar. After months of touring, Jordan has figured out how to best communicate with her audience, a skill that often takes years for a band to work out.


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