1 month ago
The bedroom-pop songs that Clairo, née Claire Cottrill, has released since her 2017 breakout, “Pretty Girl,” have often seemed like they’ve been transmitted from behind a glass wall. Mining the pain of adolescence, and her generalized lyrics can have a distancing effect. So, it’s surprising when the 20-year-old opens her debut album, Immunity, by revisiting the night a friend prevented her from committing suicide. The rest of the album is just as raw and covered in open wounds.
Produced by former Vampire Weekend member Rostam Batmanglij, Immunity is steeped in warm acoustics, a sharp pivot from the synth palette that Clairo has previously favored. At the center of it all, though, is Cottrill herself. Her characteristically impassive vocal strikes a poignant contrast with her lyrics. On “White Flag,” her voice icily glides over reedy guitars and synths as she laments, “I was 15 when I first felt loneliness.” Cottrill, who came out as bisexual last year, embraces her sexuality in a way that’s pensive and unreserved. “Sofia” conjures a sweet vision of queer love over a chugging, anthemic guitar: “I think we could do it if we tried/Sofia, know that you and I shouldn’t feel like a crime.”
“Bags,” finds Cottrill navigating the line between friend and lover with a crush who could be straight. Her approach pinpoints ephemeral moments with a wide-eyed recollection: the sensation of fingertips on her back, a mane of hair blowing in the wind, a love interest standing in a doorway.
In spite of its title, the central theme of Immunity is fragility. Time and time again, Cottrill reveals how susceptible she is to unshakable loneliness (“White Flag”), the inevitable growing apart of lovers (“Impossible”), the physical limitations caused by her rheumatoid arthritis (“I Wouldn’t Ask You”). But it’s evident that Cottrill is done feigning immunity. Life, Cottrill tells us, is full of loose ends, lingering emotions, and unfinished business. When reconciling these limitations proves difficult, if not impossible, Cottrill turns inward to find a sense of certainty to hold fast to.