Lindsey Jordan is no stranger to heartbreak, and on “Ben Franklin,” the second single from her upcoming album Valentine, she makes it clear that the wounds she licked on previous records remain wide open. Until now, the Snail Mail oeuvre has reflected raw, adolescent yearning, rife with bellowing, cathartic choruses and acoustic indie-pop instrumentation. On “Ben Franklin,” though, Jordan murmurs and sneers over a synth-driven arrangement built around one of her heaviest basslines to date. But even while seething at an ex-lover with jaded lines like, “Got money, don’t care about sex,” she can’t quite submit to the numbness she tries to channel. The further Jordan tries to lean into her uglier professions of hatred, the more her characteristic honesty seeps through the cracks. “Sometimes I hate her just for not being you,” she spits, before admitting: “Post-rehab, I’ve been feeling so small/I miss your attention, I wish I could call.”
Jordan’s despair is certainly not new, but the stark absence of romanticism in “Ben Franklin” is. Not once does she scream like she does throughout her debut, Lush, or even on her brasher recent single, “Valentine.” Sung in her lower register, her admissions of vulnerability read far more fatalistic. Still, there’s a perverse bounciness to the song as Jordan flirts with the occasional high note, adding to her fantasy of flippant, anesthetized spite. In the song’s most incisive moment, Jordan sings of a toxic relationship, “Had to make myself believe/I deserve it, I’m crazy,” before trailing off, lost in her own head. Finally, she defends herself with a stinging condemnation: “But don’t act like you’ve never met me.” Her voice is as calm and airy as it’s ever been, yet somehow more vicious than her scream.