Thursday, June 7th, 2018

Snail Mail – Heat Wave

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Ian Mathers: While I wish there was more of the specific, extremely nasty guitar tone shown off around a minute in (it pops up again, but not enough), at least it kind of grabbed my attention and made me pay more attention to what had previously sounded like a pleasant but slightly indistinct start. There are plenty of similarities to contemporaries, but the more I listen the more some of the songwriting starts reminding me of Plumtree (one of the great, deserve to be known for a lot more than giving Scott Pilgrim his name), especially when things get knotty both emotionally and sonically. Regardless, “and I hope whoever it is/holds their breath around you/’cause I did” is such a specific and powerful feeling and it’s arguably not even the most powerful part of “Heat Wave.”

Vikram Joseph: I can’t help but compare “Heat Wave” to another 2018 end-of-the-summer breakup song, namely Soccer Mommy’s devastating “Scorpio Rising.” On the latter, Sophie Allison envisions the summer as a crackling emotional funeral pyre; she’s bruised and vulnerable, blaming herself (“I’m putting your hands to her heart”) and leaving her blood out on the field with a sun-blistered, MSN Messenger screenname-worthy chorus (“Don’t think of my life anywhere but in your arms tonight”). On “Heat Wave,” Lindsey Jordan takes a more diffident approach, her languid vocals and the casual two-chord guitar chug of the verses evoking the sparse, sluggish dog days of school holidays, all shimmering heat and empty streets. The lyrics are mostly snapshots, hinting at some kind of action (“spending every weekend so far gone”) but mostly just understatedly sad (“woke up in my clothes having dreamt of you”) — weary resignation is the take-home message, but the little piquant hints of genuine regret stick with you, too. The spiky guitar stabs between the verses are intensely reminiscent of Jeff Tweedy’s playing on Wilco’s A Ghost Is Born, and “Heat Wave” shares that album’s sense of enervated ennui and arid discontent. “Scorpio Rising” hits me harder, but “Heat Wave” is just as real.

Alfred Soto: Gangly and sparking like a live wire, “Heat Wave” shares elements with Waxahatchee’s best work, at its best in the mid-song breakdown. “I’m not into sometimes,” Snail Mail reminds the lover who she’s sure regrets every mistake.

Micha Cavaseno: “Heat Wave” is a banal tune that indulges amateurism and immaturity, mistaking them for liberation and comfort. It’s not that Lindsay Jordan is terrible, it’s that she is only conveying basic notions, yet somehow this bare modicum of fulfilment is positioned as comfort despite how empty and colorless it is. Perhaps one day Snail Mail will prove to have a spirit of adventure that would inspire people, but I’m utterly dismayed at another record that is meant to indulge a sense of fright, disdain and escapist nonsense for the sake of cheap pleasures.

Tim de Reuse: Lindsey Jordan sounds world-weary and bitter in an all-consuming, archetypally teenage way; her words are blunt and carry the vivid weight of an endless, too-hot-to-think Sunday afternoon spent in self-pity and ennui. Unfortunately, the instrumentation doesn’t really back her up. I’m a known sucker for the old I – IV – I – IV, but you can’t just leave it there — that’s the bread, not the filling! The execution here has absolutely no sonic personality of its own, layering aggressively clean indie-rock open-stringed jangle over a tediously competent drum and bass section, and as a complement to Jordan’s voice it’s like sticking an impressionist masterpiece in a $60 IKEA frame.

Ryo Miyauchi: This is a verse too long for a rather limited idea, but no matter how many people have written this same exact song in the past few decades, heartbreak from young love still hits raw when delivered in this sort of simple rhyme scheme through that bashful scream. It’s a plus that Snail Mail shows off some guitar chops to shake it up a bit from what has already been said.

Juan F. Carruyo: Last time someone this young was making waves in the rock realm it was Roddy Frame with High Land, High Rain, and it’s not that much different this time out. More fuzzed out than the great Scot but retaining the melancholy mood, this track makes good on its 5 minute runtime. Dig the piercing guitar squalls that come up in each pre-chorus — now that’s a great hook. 

Kat Stevens: What’s the betting David Lynch has already got this lot queued up for Twin Peaks series 4?

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