“Mia don’t cry, I love you forever,” Lindsey Jordan sings, both to an ex-lover and herself, on her new album. “But I gotta grow up now.” Growing up has seemingly been on Jordan’s mind quite a bit lately: After making her full-length debut as Snail Mail with 2018’s Lush, which established the 18-year-old singer-songwriter as a fully-formed indie classicist, Jordan’s second record proves that the singer is capable of oh so much more.
With its amped-up pop choruses, refined sense of melody, and hints of everything from Blood Orange-inspired R&B to vintage mid-century torch balladry, Valentine, indeed, opens up entire new worlds of possibilities for her. See the atmospheric call and response chorus of “Forever (Sailing),” or the Sinatra-esque string-laden crooning of “Mia,” or the fragile campfire vulnerability of “c. et al.,” in which Jordan swaps out her electric guitar for some acoustic finger-picking.
Those songs make the moments where Jordan doubles down on her blend of Matador-core indie rock (see “Glory” and “Headlock”) all the more potent. She’s also become a more expansive, expressive vocalist: On the latter tune, she stretches out lines and plays with the phrasing, turning seemingly simple lines like “Mister Death wants my…baby now” into their own one-act plays.
Then, of course, there’s Jordan’s writing, which feels even more self-probing and cutting than last time around. The type of dark-edged couplets that she introduced in Lush are plentiful: “I could die if I had had the guts,” she sings on “Automate.” “Puked it up, drank too much/Feed the flame forever.” But in that song’s chorus, Jordan provides a new type of devastating self-aware reflection, sprinkled throughout Valentine: “Who was I to ever want like this?” The most piercing line of the record comes just a few songs before: “I’ve come to hate my body,” she sings almost as an after-thought towards the end of “Madonna.” “‘Cause now it’s not yours/Now it’s not mine.”
There’s also a newfound sense of humor on Valentine, which is filled with the type of post-breakup righteous indignation that Jordan already knows she’ll one day look back on with a smile. “You’re taking that tone, icy cold,” she sings on “Forever (Sailing),” “C’mon, I loved you!”
Such determination is ever-present on Valentine. “Light Blue” finds Jordan exploring her dogged commitment to being in love with someone else, no matter how that love may (or, more likely, may not) be returned. “Nothing’s gonna stop me now,” she sings in the tender chorus. The more Jordan sings the line, the more it becomes clear she knows she’s singing about so much more than heartbreak.