Format — LP
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While Snail Mail's Lindsey Jordan was still a teen when she signed with indie behemoth Matador for her full-length debut, 2018's Lush, the songwriter/guitarist was only 16 when she issued her debut EP, Habit, two years earlier. It led to touring opportunities with acts including Waxahatchee and Girlpool and put her on the radar of labels, the indie press, and fans alike. While the beguiling guitar textures of Lush weren't as fully formed on the six-song EP, the groundwork was there in the context of a more clattering, impulsive-sounding presentation. Perhaps more importantly, Jordan's distinctively yearning, vulnerable vocals and self-depreciating lyrics were on full display. Matador's remastered 2019 reissue of Habit comes with colorized artwork and an extra track, a cover of "The 2nd Most Beautiful Girl in the World," a 1990 song originally by Lois Maffeo's short-lived guitar-and-drums duo Courtney Love. The 2019 Snail Mail version (which differs from a 2018 Amazon-exclusive take), while generally loyal, shifts the wistful, acoustic indie pop of the bouncy original into a longing, jangly indie rock amplified by Jordan's vocal snarl. Speaking of snarl, other track titles consist of words like "Dirt" and "Slug" that not only reflect but contribute to the record's emotional and aesthetic tension. Other major contributors include angst-ridden, often depressive lyrics as well as relentless drum rhythms and clanging rhythm guitar that seems to borrow almost as much from post-punk as grunge at times. The EP is a jumble of those frustrated lyrics, which, as on "Stick," offer lines like "It's a hard trip to the kitchen sink/'Cause I can't wash this one clean" just before "Did you tell all of your friends?" While Habit is worth adding to a collection more for the originals than the cover, "The 2nd Most Beautiful Girl in the World" provides a catchy, urgent closer without betraying the core songs' discontent.
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