Earlier this year, Snail Mail (Lindsey Jordan) made her UK live debut at London’s Lexington. It’s your quintessential lower mid-size rock bar venue; gritty enough to be described as durably authentic despite intrusions of gentrification over the decades, and gentrified enough that the grit doesn’t dissuade casual fans. It’s also cramped. Very cramped. A veritable cow pen with a low-hanging roof. The acoustics effect is an echoing edge, the instruments given a brasher bark which consequently sharpens the audience’s intensity, but that night was different. When Jordan, 18, bellowed “baby when I’m 30 I’ll laugh it out,” the cathartic refrain off one of her earliest released songs ‘Dirt’, she nearly literally brought that low-hanging roof down and emphatically stunned the audience into silence. The visceral power of her voice forced us collectively breathless. Bearing witness felt like a Moment, a sliver of music history to cherish being party to. There were two takeaways from that night; everyone badly felt their age, and there’s no ceiling for how great Snail Mail can become.

Jordan’s debut Lush is the latest trophy of Matador’s victory lap, (preceded by Julien Baker’s and Lucy Dacus’s second LPs, their respective firsts on the label), and they well know it. Her press cycle has been constant since the turn of the year, and the cumulative effect of relentless, and unanimously complimentary, coverage is the manufacturing of a mythical figure which threatens to deprive Jordan of her agency. We’re in danger of creating an abstraction of her as the two-dimensional precocious wunderkind, or worse, “songstress”; yet every interview, every subsequent single, every passing Instagram post, is imbued with insight, self-deprecation, and humility, that colours in the arcane cliché. Eschew the trundling narrative and appreciate her astute utility with language, incisive observations of modern romantic angst, and fantastically assured songwriting.

The heartbreak record is the most weathered of ground so that it’s practically infertile, but Jordan’s sharp turns of phrase and brutal deconstructions of modern relationships makes Lush compellingly fruitful. ‘Pristine’ is a stone-cold classic unrequited love song; with measured, yearning instrumentation Jordan confesses her crush on a friend with the devastating footnote that if she’s not interested then, you know, that’s okay, they can still be friends, it’s okay. ‘Speaking Terms’ sees Jordan chiding the immature, put-upon fatalism of someone she’s seeing, that cop-out self-justification that a fleeting teenage romance is inconsequential in the grand scheme of things, “If it’s all ash and dust/ Well, then I won’t let you take me for a ride.” ‘Golden Dream’ is a naked insight into being fucked around, by the scumbag who trades affection and affected possibility of something more for casual sex under false pretences, “In times when I could buy your love/ But I don’t think that I have enough.” ‘Deep Sea’ offers hope, even hope limited and reluctant, with Jordan affirming that she’s capable of breaking herself free of the lovelorn tide.

These heartache diary entries are interrupted by the moving ‘Stick’, what sounds like a candid self-interrogation about loneliness and the daily ordeals of managing your mental health, it’s climactic and devastating, a digression that at track five of ten underlines its predecessor’s anguish and brightens the vitality of Jordan’s partial recovery on ‘Deep Sea’ and ‘Anytime’. Jordan is despairing and resigned, manic and inspired, upbeat and unflappable, vulnerable and debilitated, often all in the same song – the same line even, “Die my love” is sagging with meaning – and it never sounds anything other than genuine and uncompromised.

While the songs are formally conventional, as if with her lyrical content, they’re enlivened by delicate and not-so-delicate flourishes. There’s the muscular chord change on ‘Pristine’, foregrounding Jordan’s compulsive need for answers (can you tell I love this song?); the wistfully sunny, plucking intro on ‘Heat Wave’ fading into that twin tom-drum hit which duly kicks the song into sixth gear; ‘Let’s Find An Out’'s heady duel between the low-key distorted guitar and classically acoustic guitar; the melancholic droning seeping into the closing verses of ‘Anytime’. These are modest ideas, elementary even, but ideas executed effectively, precisely; the stamp of a songwriter who understands patience and subtlety can be infinitely more useful than bombast and superfluous novelty.

When someone as prodigiously talented as Jordan comes around, it’s natural that as an industry we excitedly project comparisons and apply arbitrary scales to her success; our generation’s this, the next big that. I hope we find space within the hype to appreciate Lush as a record and her songs as songs; her tight guitar work, her tremoring voice, her thoughtful and understated lyricism. The extra-textual background isn’t as impressive as her music is enjoyable, and the Liz Phair parallels will fade in time while Jordan’s “don’t you like me for me?” drawl will etch itself painfully, pertinently, permanently on your subconscious.