Happy Sunday, bibliophiles! I hope this week has treated you well.
Emotionally, it hasn’t been an ideal week, but it’s picked up in the last few days. To make things better, though, I had a string of great books in my library haul (minus one of them), and I had some time to read this week. I also held my school’s book club meeting this month, and everybody seemed really excited about A Darker Shade of Magic!
NaNoWriMo has also been going steadily! I’m at nearly 20,000 words, and my goal is 45,000 by the end of the month. (I’m still in the Young Writer’s Program.) It’s been a lot of fun to give myself time to write every day, and though getting 1,500 words in every day has been a little difficult, I’m getting used to it.
Other than that, I’ve been listening to Snail Mailon repeat, playing my guitar, drawing aliens, and waiting for my package of Aurora’s End to arrive. (!!)
AND IT ARRIVED TODAY
I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH MYSELF AKAKDAFKHDJFKFSJSAHJK
Happy Thursday, bibliophiles! Probably just gonna dispose of the “this isn’t a bookish post, but screw it, I’m still gonna use the bibliophile greeting” joke at this point. It won’t be missed.
Those of you who’ve followed this blog for a while know how much Snail Mail means to me. Her music soundtracked the strange transition from middle to high school, filled with raw, genuine emotion and unforgettable guitar riffs. Especially during the summer of 2018, her music meant so much to me. I even got to meet Lindsey Jordan at a show that year; she was such a sweet human being, and she even gave me her guitar pick at the end of the show! She’s one of the reasons why I play electric guitar now.
Fast forward to the past few years. We hadn’t gotten anything besides a cover single since 2019, and from the jokes she made at the last show about her manager overbooking her on the last tour, I started to get worried. I distinctly remember several conversations with my mom that ended with “well, hopefully she’ll feel better soon, and then she’ll make an album about it.”
And, surprise, surprise, an album she made! Valentine made me remember all over again how much I love Snail Mail while marking a natural evolution into a newer sound.
So let’s begin this review, shall we?
VALENTINE – SNAIL MAIL (album review)
TRACK 1: “Valentine” – 9/10
Getting this unexpected news on a cold September morning instantly brightened my day. It was what made me remember how much I loved Snail Mail. Even though Jordan’s voice has shifted to a deeper, raspier tone, this could have easily come off of Lush, with its soaring guitars and angsty declarations. And yet, it provides the perfect, most natural bridge from Lush to Valentine. It was the perfect first single, and it’s the perfect album opener.
TRACK 2: “Ben Franklin” – 8.5/10
Knowing that “Ben Franklin” got its name from the “presidential-type beat” memes adds a whole new layer to the song. It’s a good layer, for sure. Brings back memories of the night before taking my APUSH exam.
After the wondrous familiarity and “Snail Mail’s back!”ness of “Valentine,” “Ben Franklin” provided an organic segue into a newer, synth-dominated sound. Sultry and smooth, it’s the perfect blend of guitar, piano, and synth, all set to an instantly catchy beat. It’s a new direction for a musician who normally dominates her sound with guitars, but it feels just as genuine as anything from Lush or Habit.
TRACK 3: “Headlock” – 7.5/10
Though “Headlock” doesn’t wow me as much as some of the other tracks on this album, it’s solid proof that after all this time, Lindsey Jordan is just as much herself as she was in 2018. The evolution of Jordan’s voice shines in this song; her voice is just as raw and beautiful, but now it’s deeper, fuller. Combined with catchy guitars and pianos, this makes for a solid Snail Mail song.
TRACK 4: “Light Blue” – 9/10
Wanna wake up early every day
Just to be awake in the same world as you…
Snail Mail, “Light Blue”
In an album consisting almost entirely of songs about the ugly side of romance and breaking up, “Light Blue” provides a single spark of hope and pure love. Acoustic guitars and soft strings make for a heartwarming declaration of love, enough to make even the coldest heart melt. Leave it to Snail Mail to deliver genuine emotion in all its forms.
TRACK 5: “Forever (Sailing)” – 8.5/10
Whatever you decide,
I’ll chase you from the city to the sky,
And lose myself for you a thousand times…
Snail Mail, “Forever (Sailing)”
Like “Ben Franklin,” “Forever (Sailing)” contains so few of the guitars that became a hallmark of Snail Mail’s music. But even without them, it provides a glimpse into the evolution of her sound, making a steady, catchy beat out of a story of a relationship doomed to fall apart.
TRACK 6: “Madonna” – 9.5/10
Without question, my favorite of the three pre-released singles, and one of my favorite tracks of the album! The thrumming bass-line introduces a one-of-a-kind song, cleverly telling a story while seamlessly transitioning between heavy guitars and smoother, synth-driven slow points. I truly adore this song, everything about it just makes me so happy that Lindsey Jordan is back to making music?
(Also, the bass-line immediately made me think of this song…if I knew how, I’d try and make a mashup…)
TRACK 7: “c. et. al.” – 9.5/10
I went into this album hoping that I’d find the song that Snail Mail played live at the show I went to in 2019, one that she said “wouldn’t be out for a while.” After a few listens (the key change threw me off the trail), I found the famed “Baby Blue” song!
And it’s just as beautiful and raw as it was when I saw it love. Like with Lush, it segways into the sadder, more hopeless side of Snail Mail’s discography, providing a worthy companion to songs like “Deep Sea” and “Anytime.” The acoustic guitar accents Jordan’s voice perfectly, making for the perfect recipe for tugging at my heartstrings.
TRACK 8: “Glory” – 10/10
You owe me,
You own me,
Couldn’t even look at you straight on,
Shining in your glory…”
Snail Mail, “Glory”
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! Without a doubt, my FAVORITE song on the whole album. Everything about this song makes me so giddy, and it’s so wonderfully Snail Mail…GAH. The driving beat that ticks along in the chorus, Jordan’s soaring voice and clever lyrics, and the strong guitar throughout. Everything, down to the way that Jordan’s voice rings out on the final “glory,” makes for a perfect song. And can we appreciate the subtle “you owe me/you own me” turn of phrase? Golden.
TRACK 9: “Automate” – 8/10
I wouldn’t say this one quite matches how good the rest of the album is, but that in no way means it’s a bad song. At this point, the concept of a bad Snail Mail song is about as likely as the sun not rising tomorrow.
Oddly, my first thought upon hearing the intro was “SPOON.” It particularly reminded me of something like “The Beast and Dragon, Adored” or “The Way We Get By.” I don’t even know if Spoon is an influence of hers, but that’s what immediately came to mind. Either way, “Automate” is a song where you can almost see the beat pushing forward in front of your eyes. Compared to the rest of the album, there’s something that’s missing from it that I can’t place, but it still holds up in the grand scheme of it. Plus, guitars.
TRACK 10: “Mia” – 9/10
Mia, don’t cry,
I love you forever,
But I’ve gotta grow up now
No, I can’t keep holding on to you anymore,
Mia, I’m still yours…
Snail Mail, “Mia”
“Mia, don’t cry…” no, I’m crying. And there’s nothing you can do to stop me.
Like “Anytime,” “Mia” serves as the perfect melancholy closer for a near-perfect album. The solitude of Jordan’s voice, an acoustic guitar, and a string section brings out the somber tone of the song, making the lost love within it all the more heartbreaking. It’s hard to surpass “Anytime,” but I believe that “Mia” barely does just that.
Shoot, now I’m getting all sad…lemme just go back to “Glory” for a minute…
I averaged out all my ratings for each track, and it came out to an 8.9, which I’ll round up to a 9. Valentine, though rife with stories of love gone wrong, lifted my spirits and restored my hope in Snail Mail. There’s nothing that Lindsey Jordan can’t do, both as a songwriter and a musician, and this album is a beautiful, emotional testament to the fact. I’m so excited to see her live again in April!
Since this is an album review, consider this whole album today’s song.
That’s it for this album review! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
September started out a little stressful, but now I feel like I’m in a better place than I’ve been for most of this year. I can neither confirm nor deny that this is because it’s finally fall and it’s cold enough for me to wear my favorite jackets.
Let’s begin, shall we?
September has been my first full month back in school; it started out more than a little stressful, thanks to getting my college applications all sorted out, but now that I’m (somewhat) over that hump, I’m feeling a lot better. I’ve managed to keep my grades in a good place, so I’m happy about that!
I also managed to finish draft 2 of my sci-fi WIP!! I’m super proud of myself for that one–I cut down a whole lot of filler, and I feel a lot better about it as a whole. I’m going to let it sit for a few months before I go back and edit it, but I feel great about it. In the meantime, I’ve been poring through a draft I abandoned in 2019 that was…surprisingly good, given that it was written almost two and a half years ago. I’ve been outlining on and off, but I’m going to try and actually get this writing business back in motion soon.
As for the rest of the month, it’s been peaceful. We got the book club back up and running at my high school, I spent the weekend in Vail, and I went to two fantastic concerts–Spoon and St. Vincent! They were both great, but the latter will always have a special place in my heart. St. Vincent was a major hero of mine in middle school, and she’s still a hero now, and seeing her live made all my dreams come true.
And now it’s almost October! I’m so excited–Halloween season, loads of good movies coming out (The French Dispatch, Dune, etc.), fall in general…good times.
READING AND BLOGGING:
I read 21 books this month! More than I expected, given that I haven’t had as much time to read this month, but I did read a lot of shortish books, so…
Happy Sunday, bibliophiles! I hope this week has treated you well.
Another solid week! I’ve started a few projects in school, but they’re all going smoothly. I’m definitely proud of myself for where I am in the semester!
Reading-wise, I haven’t been able to stop by the library lately, so I’ve just been dredging the Kindle library for what’s available (and trying to find Latinx and bisexual books for September), which has yielded a few decent reads, but also some fantastic ones! I’m re-reading The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea for my school’s book club as well.
Also, my middle school (and current) dreams came true on Thursday night–I got to go to a St. Vincent concert!! It was such a phenomenal show–even the songs of hers that I didn’t like as much (read: MASSEDUCTION) were performed so well. Thank you, Annie Clark. 🎸
Other than that, I’ve just been doodling aliens, looking back through my unfinished drafts for writing inspiration, playing Minecraft, and catching up on What We Do in the Shadows and the new season of Sex Education. Oh, and Snail Mail’s back!! And her new album is coming in November!! AAH!
Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme created by Lauren’s Page Turners. All you have to do to participate is pick a book from your Goodreads TBR, and explain why you want to read it.
Another one dredged from the middle reaches of my TBR, Valentine seems like an inventive twist on the combination of paranormal/urban fantasy and mystery. I’ll try and ignore the fact that the synopsis describes it as perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas and Holly Black (both of which have produced books that are hyped to no end, but I personally think are rather overrated), because this looks like it could be a unique novel.
Let’s begin, shall we?
GOODREADS MONDAY (2/24/20)–VALENTINE by Jodi McAlister
Four teenagers – all born on the same Valentine’s Day – begin to disappear. As the bodies mount up, Pearl Linford has to work out what in the supernatural hell is going on, before it happens to her.
Finn Blacklin is the boy with whom Pearl shares a birthday, the boy she has known all her life and disliked every second of it, the boy her subconscious has a totally annoying crush on. Finn is also the Valentine: a Seelie fairy changeling swapped for a human boy at birth. The Unseelie have come to kill the Valentine – except they don’t know who it is. And now both the Seelie and the Unseelie think Pearl is the Valentine, and if they find out she isn’t, she’ll disappear too.
Pearl must use all her wits to protect herself. Finn must come to terms with his newfound heritage. And then there’s the explosive chemistry between them that neither of them know quite what to do about . . .
So why do I want to read this?
Another re-read of the synopsis, and I’m getting hit with some major Holly Black vibes…personally, I think she’s incredibly creative, but one of the reasons that I didn’t enjoy The Cruel Prince was that I didn’t care for/despised all of the main cast. Anyway, let’s get back on topic.
I’m fascinated to see how McAlister handles this (very interesting!) concept of the Valentines. Changelings are kind of hard to mess up in fantasy literature, so I don’t doubt that she’ll deliver in that aspect. All in all, Valentine sounds like a deft melding of fantasy, mystery, and maybe a sprinkling of horror. I like it…
(These riffs…THESE RIFFS…)
That just about wraps up this week’s Goodreads Monday! Just as a heads-up, I’ll probably be a *bit* more lethargic posting-wise this week, due to several upcoming quizzes/exams I’ll have to take in the middle of the week. In the meantime, stay tuned for a Book Review Tuesday tomorrow! Have a wonderful day, and take care of yourselves!