The breakup song is one of the most iconic archetypes of music since its inception. Penning your feelings of distraught, fear of the future, and loneliness to music is cathartic and the first step towards healing for many artists. Lorde captured the pain of letting go and trying to move on in her brilliant single “Green Light” from 2017’s Melodrama. On Stranger in the Alps, Phoebe Bridgers refuses to let her ex-lover escape unscathed with her seething track “Motion Sickness.” Adding to the pantheon of great breakup songs is Snail Mail’s new single “Valentine” for her upcoming record with the same name.
Known for youth aesthetics and yearning lyricism prevalent throughout the entirety of her amazing debut Lush, Snail Mail’s Lindsey Jordan soundtracked the summers of many. Tracks, such as “Pristine” and “Heat Wave,” perfectly encapsulated the feelings of heartbreak with a maturity much greater than her age of 18 at the time. Backed by atmospheric indie rock, Lush proved Lindsey Jordan was a young force to be reckoned with.
Back three years after the release of Lush, “Valentine” continues the hot streak for the now 22-year-old. Opening with a new synth sound, reminiscent of Japanese Breakfast’s newest album Jubilee, the listener is immediately greeted by Jordan’s warm vocals. Significantly more mature sounding, Jordan sings “Let’s go be alone/Where no one can see us, honey.” Begging for a private relationship, we are quickly warned that not all is as it seems: “Careful in that room/Those parasitic cameras, don’t they stop to stare at you?” This opening verse provides great exposition into the plot of this relationship. Further falling apart, Jordan laments “Can’t love for us both/You’ve gotta live and I gotta go.” Making both parties feel equally to blame for the end, the chorus erupts into a bright power pop anthem, with Jordan screaming “So why’d you wanna erase me, darling valentine?” This line alone is enough to crush anyone’s heart. While she may have been calm before, healing does not happen in a straight line. Her anger shines through throughout the chorus, but she never loses hope, ending with “You’ll always know where to find me when you change your mind.” While angry and questioning the breakup, Jordan hopes for a change in heart one day, but unfortunately this resolution does not pan out. In the end, the relationship is one-sided and how do you try to rebuild that?
Equal parts lonely and angry, Snail Mail walks a fine balance on “Valentine.” While there is a sonic departure from her previous work, this lead single for her upcoming album is more than promising. If Lush proved Jordan was a force to be reckoned with, “Valentine” and its subsequent album prove she is here to stay.