Clairo masters electro pop textures as she wrangles her catapult to stardom.
Seeking clarity in Immunity, the young pop star explores her identity and worth as a young modern woman. But does it display the genius of her contemporary pop messiahs?
Clairo’s debut album is a swirling collection of youthful trap pop, and soft, sparkling electro ballads. The lyrics are honest, a rare commodity in pop.
In a musical landscape of self professed pop saviours, and grandiose claims of changing the terrain forever, genuine characteristics and authenticity are worth more than gold. Yet can her moral compass survive the modern meat grinder that is the pop music industry.
Hannah Montana embodied this, as did Taylor Swift, and a stark re-invigoration by their board of directors was necessary to save that sinking ship. Lizzo is a whirlwind of powerful, twerking pride while Justin Bieber rocketed through the stratosphere of stardom after a fateful Youtube video was discovered by Usher back in 2009. Look how well that turned out. As modern pop culture hurtles towards hyperspeed and legions of fans merge unconditionally to their disparate idols; imitators rear their ugly heads and originality, authenticity and marketability remain the predominant factors for success.
Clairo was shot to fame after releasing a bedroom video of Pretty Girl. The clip is home-made, with a scrappy drum machine, rinky dink electro keys and 36 million hits on Youtube. 24 months later she is playing arenas. The timid 20 year old seems to embody the same relaxed, genuine nature as Billie Eilish, but without the trap-goth attitude. Immunity continues Clairo’s search for identity as a modern woman without the dynamic, bass booming hits of her pop contemporaries.
Album opener Alewife, named after a train station near her home town outside Boston, details a friends intervention in her near suicide attempt, providing a somewhat dark opening to the album. Clairo, however, ends it with an optimistic comic flourishing: ‘You know I’ll be alright / Eighth grade was never that tight.’
Brooding builder White Flag shimmers as her lovelorn angsty lyrics state ‘I was 15 when I first felt loneliness, cut my hair only listened to ‘Loveless” name dropping My Bloody Valentine’s seminal album; simultaneously asking her crush ‘Can you figure me out?’
Clairo’s voice remain at inside level the entire album. Intimate and delicate they have you hanging on every smack and pop of the lips. In this sense Clairo draws us back into the small space of her bedroom yet with a remarkably more advanced set of soundscapes at her disposal. From the vibrant rolling snares and keyboard flourishes of Impossible to the off kilter synths and sludgy electric guitar on Bags, it provides the perfect tension for her breathy reflections as the drums thwack in the background.
Check out Clairo’s debut album below:
Closer To You provides a heavy dose of trap and auto tune, feeling somewhat out of place in the context of the rest of the album, yet comfortable in the soundscape of modern pop.
Despite it all, there is no doubt these songs will be dearly loved by teenage girls around the world as they continue to obsess over unfiltered expression and chill playlists. This is predominantly due to the tender intimacy and fragility of the songs that feels genuine while the lyrics have substance. Clairo is determined to prove she can make it off of her own back, and I believe she can.
Immunity does not change the rules of pop forever, but it is a welcome collection of honest, tender reflections, from a bedroom to the stars.
Immunity is out now.