Having named Snail Mail‘s debut album Lush as one of our Top 50 Albums of the 2010s, it’s safe to say we can’t wait for the release of her follow-up, Valentine, which arrives next month. We’ve already heard the title track, and today Lindsey Jordan follows it up with the second track, “Ben Franklin”.
A song that coasts on a booming drum machine and implements luminous synths, it shows a clear development in Snail Mail’s sound. It also finds Jordan admitting “post-rehab been feeling so small” as she wavers over whether to try to backslide into the arms of a former flame (or alcohol itself) or not, unsure how it will affect her mentally. It’s a simmering stew of anguish and pain that she bubbles into one of her most luminous songs to date. To achieve this spectrum of feelings, she’s using her voice to its fullest, as she delivers her scabrous lines in a clear sneer as she spits “got money / I don’t care about sex”, puts so much attitude into the self-patronising “sucker for the pain / aw, honey”, then later flips to a falsetto for a particularly tenderpunk delivery of the line “don’t act like you never met me”. There’s an air of her labelmate Kurt Vile in the way “Ben Franklin” unfolds, not only in the way she drawls, but also the construction: the simple rhythm remaining a heartbeat that all the other elements weave in and out of, each with their own unique melody that serves to augment the track into a bastion of discontent.
The video for “Ben Franklin”, directed by Josh Coll, is yet another iconic one, with Jordan saying:
“It felt only right that the visual accompaniment should include dancing in front of a camera and holding a 10 foot snake close to my face.”
Watch “Ben Franklin” below. If you don’t like snakes, don’t worry – it ends up with puppies. Or find the song on streaming platforms.