Clairo explores new sounds on debut album ‘Immunity’

Elena Waldman

Known for her bedroom-pop style and melancholy lyrics, Clairo has been a staple in the alternative music scene for a few years now since her viral hit “Pretty Girl” was released in 2017. With a wave of young indie-pop musicians like Billie Eilish and Rex Orange County coming to the forefront of the Spotify charts, the 20-year-old joined the list as well, dropping her debut album titled “Immunity.” Released on Aug. 2, the album made it clear Clairo has both evolved into a more mature musician and refined her sound that got her recognition in the first place. 

The first track, “Alewife,” starts out with simple piano chords, which strays away from her traditional distorted sound. The chords are simple, and it feels more low-production, which is a pleasant direction for Clairo. The song feels like a nostalgic ode to the artist’s past, as she talks about a friend she met in Massachusetts where she grew up. “Impossible” is more beat-heavy, but the lyrics are juxtaposed with the seemingly upbeat sound. Clairo is talking to an old flame in this track and lamenting how she has grown, while also noting her insecurities, like how she feels like a burden. 

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“Closer to You” surprisingly uses autotune on Clairo’s voice, although it serves as a change in pace rather than an aid to her voice. The use of autotune makes the song sound futuristic and robotic, and when this is paired with the subtle trap-inspired beats, the song creates an entirely new sound that Clairo has not yet explored. The more rock-heavy sound on “North” compliments Clairo’s voice in the best way, especially when her vocals are a bit drier than on other tracks. At this point, the lyrics seem a bit repetitive, as this song is also about an old flame. 

“Bags” is one of my favorite tracks on the album because Clairo’s perfectly calming voice and instrumentals are fully emphasized. Clairo sings about how she doesn’t want to waste time doing useless tasks with someone while they only have a limited amount of time together. The song has a twinge of sadness and insecurity to it when she says she’d rather be doing nothing with someone she loves than be alone. 

“Softly” starts out sounding like a track from a lofi-beats playlist. Once her vocals are added, the track shifts completely to a deep, love-inspired ballad. It feels like a song for a summer sunset, especially with the smooth guitar-like instrumentals. 

The bare guitar on “Sofia” sounds a lot like the instrumentals on Soccer Mommy’s “Cool” at first, but not in a way that feels like an imitation. As the song progresses, the chords also sound awfully similar to John Mayer’s “New Light,” but enough of Clairo’s unique artistry sets it apart from the aforementioned songs. As opposed to “Bags,” which feels more like romantic paranoia, “Sofia” is hopelessly romantic and direct. 

“White Flag” is a much more developed bedroom-pop sound than the rest of Clairo’s discography, and it’s nice to see the artist has found a way to evolve her original sound as well as add new individual elements. However, her lyrical nostalgia gets a little tired at this point, as she is once again telling a story of her past. 

“Feel Something” isn’t anything special compared to the rest of the album, and at this point, Clairo’s infatuation with her own romantic history gets old. “Sinking” is much more refreshing, and has some calming blues influences. 

“I Wouldn’t Ask You” starts out with gloomy piano chords, and as the song progresses, Clairo’s voice is backed up by chanting vocals that sound youthful yet soulful. Surprisingly, mid-way through the song, the simple piano chords ascend into a distinctive beat, completely changing the sound altogether. 

Instrumentally, Clairo has really branched out on “Immunity,” which has given her a sound that is fitting for the modern “genre-less” Spotify playlist “POLLEN.” While her sound is unique, I would have liked to see more lyrical maturity because pretty much all the tracks either revolve around love, nostalgia or both. Seeing as Clairo is a young artist, she still has plenty of time to evolve, but “Immunity” is a near-perfect first album regardless. 

 

Rating: 8.5/10 

Best Tracks: Bags, Softly, I Wouldn’t Ask You

Worst Tracks: Feel Something

Elena Waldman can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @WaldmanElena.