When was the last time you felt rejection? I don’t mean rejection in the small sense, like someone changing seats on the overground because you’re eating a McDonalds filet-o-fish, or not being allowed into a club because you’re in a K-hole. I mean that real, crushing rejection. The sort that shapes you later. Spending one summer snogging in the park with someone, then seeing words flash up on a screen and your eyes landing on “I’m sorry” and “someone else,” for example. Or, maybe worse, the rejection that’s not quite rejection, but you can still feel it. A dismissive laugh, someone’s skin feeling weird on yours, the way they say your name, casually. And how you are around them: always searching for clues.
Today, indie rock band Snail Mail—fronted by 18-year-old Lindsay Jordan—release their debut album Lush and it takes all of these feelings and flings them into open space. You may have already heard of Snail Mail: their first EP Habit arrived two years ago, and we interviewed Jordan earlier this year. But this marks their most concise and full-bodied release to date. At ten tracks long, Lush is the sound of suburban teenage boredom and love souring in the sun; of golden-coloured days and bleak, dusk-blue nights, made up of sweet, sprawling guitar anthems that somehow make sense of your emotions before you’ve even had a chance to look them in the eye. “It just feels like the same party every weekend / Doesn't it? Doesn't it?” sings Jordan on “Pristine,” her clear, soft voice floating over fuzzy open riffs. If you’ve ever felt a romance slowly fizzle into nothingness, you’ll totally know what she means.
Artists write about rejection—or heartbreak—all the time. But most of these songs are about how shitty it feels, how devastating it is to lose something, how hard it is to recover. But Lush is different. As its name suggests, this is an album wrapped up in beauty and transcendence too, each song a vivid snapshot in time, with sadness lingering among all the other complex feelings. Whether Jordan is singing about the relief of no longer pretending on “Pristine” (“Don’t you like me for me? / Is there any better feeling than coming clean?”), obsessing over what her ex-lover’s mates are thinking on “Stick” (“What is it with them ? / That they stick around?”) or how the earth keeps spinning even when your relationship has crumbled on “Golden Dream” (“The morning bleeds into the golden dream / Just like before”), listening to Lush is like zooming in and out of every fleeting emotion, however contradictory or uncomfortable, in all their colourful shades. It's astonishing.
Lush excels as a record, because rejection isn’t as simple as losing/never having someone and feeling like shit. There are other things swirling among that too. For every long, late night Whatsapp that goes ignored, there’s the poetic way in which it was written. For every person that scrolls through their Instagram when they’re with you, is the knowledge that you’re being wasted, that all the interesting aspects of yourself are being deadened in their company. And even when your interior world is collapsing like a wet cake, everything outside of that remains the same: the sun still makes the grass glow, time keeps plunging forward, and people move in and out of each other's lives all the time.
There’s a sweetness to heartbreak that is hard to pinpoint, and even harder to explain, but it exists in the blissful chord progressions and simple, crushing phrases that fill every corner of Snail Mail’s Lush. Towards the end of the album, on “Full Control”, Jordan emerges with renewed power, her voice rising over rolling drums and shredding guitar for a final crescendo: “And spill your guts / And try new clothes / And try new clothes / Full control / I’m not lost / Even when it’s love / Even when it’s not.”
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This article originally appeared on Noisey UK.