Review: Clairo’s Album “Immunity” Brings a New Sound
In the last few years, we have seen a plethora of new music genres spring up from the ground and take the world by storm. One of the most popular, although niche during the beginning of its life, is bedroom pop. Bedroom pop can be described as music with the sound and aesthetic of recording at home, rather than a studio. It usually has a quieter sound, with muted drums and dreamy or ‘fuzzy’ vocals. One of the artists that truly pioneered the genre is none other than Clairo.
Born Claire Cottrill, Clairo first rose to fame when her homemade song and DIY music video “Pretty Girl” went viral on YouTube in 2017. The video currently has over 45 million views and was one of the first major bedroom pop songs, unofficially crowning Clairo as the queen of the genre. Once record labels caught wind of who she was and what she had made, the fight to sign her to a deal began. Although she had several options to choose from, she decided on Fader Records, since her father has relations with the company. She now joins other superstars with indie beginnings such as Rex Orange County and Brockhampton.
This brings us to 2019 and the release of her album Immunity. Although she had released a couple of singles and a short EP in the two years prior, Immunity was her first studio album and cohesive project. The album has a noticeable increase in production value due to Clairo’s utilization of a professional studio and the co-production from Rostam Batmanglij of Vampire Weekend fame. Clairo flexes all her creative muscles and sheds her single-genre shackles, introducing some alternative, pop, indie, and soft rock sounds on the album.
Although she shows tremendous growth on Immunity, she manages to stay true with the elements of her music that made her into a big name in the first place. Her voice and singing style are still as warm and inviting as ever and uses subtlety greatly to her advantage. In fact, I believe this subtlety is the strongest factor in why the album is so outstanding. There are many moments where the songs on Immunity could have turned into the overproduced nonsense that is so common of other pop songs that you might hear on the radio, but Clairo instead chooses to use infectious rhythms and silky vocals to accompany her lyrics.
Clairo’s lyrics are another strongpoint of Immunity. She includes themes from her own life such as sexuality, suicide, love, and love lost that she conveys in a personal way. Even though she lets out some personal information about herself, she makes sure the messages are broad enough for all listeners to relate to, increasing the immersion of the album. On Genius, Clairo generally describes the lyrics as:
“Whether it’s relationships or if you relate it to something bigger in your life, it’s definitely about learning to be comfortable in a place of the unknown and kind of just being okay with not knowing the outcome of something.”
The only major negative aspect that I see in the album is the inconsistency of the sound of each track. Clairo seems to jump from genre to genre, not really pinning down one style to focus the album on. This is most likely because Clairo rose to fame extremely fast, and still needs some time to figure out exactly who she is as a musician.
However, this variance in songs is not completely a bad thing; the different music styles make for a thoroughly entertaining and charming listening experience. Immunity sounds almost like a mixtape made by a dear friend, with all your favorite songs in mind. There are songs like “Alewife” and “Sinking” that are serious and emotional, and songs like “North” and “Sofia” that are infectious, upbeat, and lighthearted.
All in all, I am very impressed with the way that Clairo cashes in on the lo-fi and indie feel that made fans fall in love with her music, while boosting her production value and going outside of the box to make a one-of-a-kind record.
Review by Davis Ihde
Release Date: August 2, 2019
Label: Fader Label
Rating: 4/5 stars