With Snail Mail’s Lush, indie rock has officially entered its “Black Crowes era,” where young artists refigure music from the decade they were born. But that’s not a bad thing here. As the brainchild of 18-year-old Lindsey Jordan, who counts Helium’s Mary Timony and Waxahatchee’s Katie Crutchfield as mentors, Snail Mail worship at the altars of Pavement, Liz Phair and Dinosaur Jr. She’s packed Lush, her debut full-length, with the same sort of smart lyrics about unrequited love (“Heat Wave”), personal dissatisfaction (“Pristine”) and the places where those feelings coalesce (“Golden Dream”) as her forebears and set them to a soundtrack of chugging, glassy-toned guitar. She also sings in the same endearingly off-key way as many of her apparent influences once did.
Lush is best, though, when Jordan stretches out beyond coffeehouse indie-rock busking and embraces deeper Sonic Youth-style textures, on tunes like “Anytime” and “Deep Sea.” The latter song opens with just a guitar but it builds outward (including a French horn solo) until the music seems to enfold her voice as she sings, “You can be anyone/It took so long to know someone like you.” And on the album closer “Anytime,” she plays at a slow tempo before a church organ and acoustic guitar add some clarity and emotional weight, leading to her moving, closing stanza, “I’m not in love with your absence/’Cause I’ve fallen so hard for the space.” It’s here where Lush lives up to its title, and it’s here where Jordan shows promise for coming up with a new sound all her own.