Review Summary: I could be anyone
Lush is the encapsulation of a perfect debut, in ways both pleasingly universal and thrillingly specific. While there has been no shortage of 90's indebted Liz Phair worshipping indie rock as of late, Lindsey Jordan puts her stamp on a sound more patient and introspective, cementing her established style while still comfortably stretching its parameters. There is a feeling that there were no concessions made as this album came together, everything coming off as an organic extension of what Jordan wants to say and how she wants to say it.
It's difficult to objectively stake a review on how something makes you feel, but in keeping things so modest and insular, I believe it's exactly what Jordan was aiming for with Lush. While many will rightfully single out her guitar prowess, I think it's her singing that does the most heavy lifting. Her voice isn't the most versatile but makes up for it with its clearheaded force of expression, coloring in shades of feeling and meaning with every drawn out lull and giving real power to the more anthemic songs. Her guitar playing is textured, hooky and melodic, with brief moments of barbed shredding. The undeniable highlights come when she can connect the indefinable pull of her voice to more conventionally exciting moments; Heat Wave is properly languid and shimmering but buzzing with fuzzy fretboard outbursts that segue into a wall of sound chorus so huge and resolute, it already feels like a standard. Stick is a dimly lit tangle of chords until a howler of a chorus that swoons and sways in a burst of bright melodicism.
Of course, with 10 songs admittedly similar in pace and overall style, it's easy to understand some of the indifference the album has been met with, but I genuinely believe it comes down to what the listener is personally looking for; Jordan can shred and she can write huge choruses, but that's decidedly not the focus of Lush, and I think that's what makes it brilliant and unexpected. Variety is traded in for nuance, and it's an admirably risky gambit for such a young artist to take on a debut album. Where I could so easily see the version of this album that is more expansive and extroverted, what Snail Mail has delivered here is idiosyncratic songs with big hooks that are elemental (not elementary) on impact and in isolation but string together to somehow make the experience smaller, more intimate. It's strange to state a debut as 'for the fans', but I think that's exactly what we've been given with Lush: a singular voice, boxed into an identifiable style, but using a full range of emotion to color outside of the lines.