There’s been plenty of indie-stry buzz about Snail Mail’s debut album Lush. If I wrote this album at 17 like Lindsey Jordan did, I would simply be insufferable. Why? My ego would be through the roof because I wrote a perfect album that captures the longing and heartache of a particular moment in time when you feel alllllllll the feels.
I’ve played the shit out of this entire album on my record player, to the point of obsession, and it had a chokehold over my top listens for an embarrassing amount of time for someone creeping up on 30.
I’d be remiss not to mention the top singles on the album, like “Pristine,” an absolute jam (v. teen gal energy to proclaim “I’ll never love anyone else” at 17) and “Heat Wave” another banger with the repetitious ending “I’m feeling low/ I’m not into sometimes” – I mean, show up consistently, or not at all, amirite?? HOWEVER, there is one particular track that GETS me and I’m trying to articulate why.
Heartbreak is a universal experience. And nothing makes me feel like I’m driving my car for the first time, windows down with my hand bouncing in the breeze, and giving sad grrrl main-character energy like listening to “Speaking Terms” on full blast.
It’s that feeling of knowing when a romance, relationship, fling, etc., is over, but still wanting to hang on and leave it open-ended, as the song begins with the plea, “Oh, don’t say it now/Wait, don’t just give up.”
Listening activity: driving down a back road, windows down, spring air touching those fingerlings
Both a classically trained guitarist and singer-songwriter, Jordan’s vocal delivery gives these somewhat juvenile lyrics the emotional intelligence and depth of a spiritual confessional:
Say what you gotta
Sleep in somehow
Leave things on speaking terms
And I’ll see you around
Addressing the unbothered lover, whose words don’t mean much we can tell at this point, while getting in a slight dig at them to “sleep in somehow” – the anger, the sass is palpable! Like in Sam Smith’s “How Do You Sleep?” there’s always a hint of disdain in the gaze toward the unfeigned-ex.
The entire song is perfect, but especially the second half. The guitar picks up, the pace picks up, and the breakdown at precisely 2 minutes and 30 seconds in is, for me, the LET THE BEAT DROP moment you might experience in a club.
My favorite line is one repeated and circled back to – the ever-present earworm – her declaration: “It’s all ash and dust/ I won’t let you take me for a ride.”
As she repeats one more time with the final lines “And it’s all over us/And still I won’t let you take me for a ride,” finally I’m realizing the ash and dust itself has begun to cover them both. How suffocating.
Though this particular unrequited queer romance ends with the acceptance that “it’s all ash and dust,” the fire is still burning for me. She ends with agency, with acknowledgement to the reality there’s deceit going on here. And like a classic gemini queen (we’re birthday twinsies), she’s feeling every ounce of this romance, but she’s also had it with your bullshit.
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