Some of y’all are probably wondering why the hell a review for Clairo’s Immunity is popping up in your feed right now. I mean, considering this album came out over the summer, I would say this article is coming out a little late. I do not even know how I slept on this album so badly when it first came out; I mean, I have enjoyed Clairo’s music in the past, so there was no reason for me to not review this record when it came out. My excuse is that when ‘Immunity’ came out, I was in the midst of a family vacation that was out of the country, and I had only planned out a couple albums to review while I was on this trip, and did not really keep up with rest of the music world. I was on vacation for almost 2 and a half weeks, which is like an eternity in the music world, and I had to rush to catch up when I got back into the States. Because of this, I somehow forgot to check out this record; better late than never, though, right? In the months since this record came out, I have come to really enjoy it, and I decided that I could not just not write about ‘Immunity’ this year because it is too good. I am starting to work on my list of best albums of the year, and since this album will be on that list, I decided it deserves a proper review. It is amazing how much Clairo has grown as an artist in the brief time she has been in the spotlight. She originally went viral for cute lo-fi bedroom electro-pop jams like ‘Pretty Girl’ and ‘Flaming Hot Cheetos;’ I do like these songs a lot, but I did not know how I would feel about a whole album of this kind of music from Clairo. I guess it does not matter how I would feel about that because Clairo has totally altered her sound in a super mature way over the last couple of years. ‘Immunity’ is a culmination of Clairo’s maturity as a songwriter, musician, and person; on this record, we see Clairo experimenting with her music in many ways, blending garage rock and 90s style indie-pop with R&B to make a sound that is completely her own, all while bearing her heart about being bi-sexual, growing up, love, and fame in a super beautiful and sweet way. It is obvious why so many music fans and people in the media love this album so much; it is super complete-sounding and well-made, and Clairo excels at telling her stories in relatable ways over genre-bending instrumentals that anyone can love because they do not conform to one sound or type of music. Immunity is an excellent album for all of these reasons and more, and I am certain that Clairo will be a star in the music world as long as she wants to be because there is no one like her.
You call me seven times; one, two, three, four on the line. I didn’t mean to scare you, just had the thoughts in my mind. They showed up to my door. My parents didn’t know what for. Swear I could have done it if you weren’t there when I hit the floor…
Clairo definitely starts out the album one for one with a beautiful track about mental health and how her friend saved her from trying to end it all. ‘Alewife’ is very subtle and beautiful; the low key nature of the song makes it very powerful. The instrumental for this track is provided by a shimmering piano riff and a warm, fuzzy acoustic guitar melody; the whole instrumental is very soft and sweet, and makes you really focus on what Clairo is saying, which is good because what she is saying on ‘Alewife’ is important. Next is the song ‘Impossible,’ which features a contribution from Danielle Haim. I really like the drumbeat from this song, because it reminds me a lot of ‘I Miss You’ by Blink-182. I actually doubt that this is a coincidence considering the premise of the song is actually pretty similar to the Blink-182 classic. I love how much emotion Clairo sings with; her singing voice really engages the listener and makes them feel what she feels. My favorite thing about ‘Impossible’ is the little instrumental break towards the end of the song. The little guitar solo is really sweet and funky and cute; I do not even know of another way to describe it other than saying it is so damn vibey. ‘Closer To You’ is one of the most genre-bending and experimental songs on the record; in fact, I do not even know what genre it would be placed in because it is so unique. Maybe R&B, I guess? It features a classic 808 beat that is solely provided by hi-hats, which almost makes it sound trap in a way; if that does not make sense to you right now, listen to it now and you will see what I mean. The vocal effects on this track are super cool; the weird and spacey auto-tune that is used gives a cool layer of texture to a track that is otherwise very soft and lo-fi. It seems like every song on Immunity has a new genre, as ‘North’ sounds nothing like the track that precedes it. This song actually reminds me a lot of late 90s contemporary alternative music; in fact, it gives me major Sheryl Crow vibes. I really dig this switch up because it brings some energy to the album. ‘North’ is a track about a love that Clairo knows she can’t have; she suggests the fact that she should just go north to get away because she can not see this person every day and get over them. Overall, ‘North’ is just a really sweet song about something that I feel like we can all relate to.
Can you see me? I’m waiting for the right time. I can’t read you, but you know that the pleasure’s all mine. Can you see me using everything to hold back? I guess it could be worse, walking out the door with your bags…
We have reached the section of Immunity that is just excellent. The next few songs are some of my favorite songs of the year; the first of these tracks is ‘Bags.’ I am not alone in my opinion of loving this song; in fact, ‘Bags’ has been in the top ten of pretty much every “Best Songs of 2019” list I have seen so far(I will be making one of these pretty soon as well, so don’t you worry), and I even saw it on a list of the best songs of the decade as well. ‘Bags’ is a beautiful piece of funky contemporary alternative rock with really cute and innocent lyricism; it also has one of the catchiest guitar riffs I have heard this year. ‘Bags’ is about Clairo realizing for the first time she has a crush on a girl and also about how nervous she is to say tell this girl she is crushing on how she feels. It is just a really sweet and awesome song and it makes me happy whenever I play it. The next song, ‘Softly,’ almost seems like it takes place after Clairo finally gets the confidence to tell the girl that she likes from the song ‘Bags’ how she feels. She knows that she likes the girl and that this person makes her happy, but she is not sure what the people around her will think, which is making her hesitant. The sentiment and emotion of the lyrics mesh so well with the melody and instrumental. The verses contain this quirky and anxious funk-rock riff; the riff is super bumpy and textured, and it almost seems like feels unsure about itself, just like Clairo in the verses. When the chorus comes along, the melody it’s very bubbly and sweet, and as Clairo sings about wanting to hold the girls she loves, everything seems to be calm and ok. The way that this track is structured is so damn mature and cool, and once again I really like this track. In the song ‘Sofia,’ Clairo seems to finally be coming to terms with these feelings with the girl that she loves, and she is realizing it is ok to feel this way. The instrumental has a bit of a 90s alternative rock feeling to it, with a bit of an indie tint. In fact, it reminds me a lot of The Strokes. The tone of this song is a lot more forward-thinking and hopeful, and it really rounds out this trio of songs in the middle of the album very nicely.
‘White Flag’ brings us back down from the high of the last track, and the title of the songs feels like it is quite literal. Clairo seems to have had a bad break up with the person that she used to love, and the spitefulness that they have towards each other is taking a toll. Interestingly enough, she shouts out the album Loveless by My Bloody Valentine on this song; Clairo’s sound is often compared to the shoegaze music that MBV was known for, so I guess it makes sense that she listened to them while growing up. My favorite thing about this track is the beat, which is made on an 808 and sounds like a classic hip hop beat; it contrasts the soft rock nature of the melody, and I love that Clairo is pushing genre boundaries like this so consistently on this record. On ‘Feel Something,’ Clairo is the one with someone who loves her, instead of the other way around, and she just does not feel the same way. This track bends genres even more than the last song; in fact, this one almost feels like a direct mix of shoegaze rock and pop-trap music. There are even some cool vocal effects that almost sounds like an auto-crooner rapper. The vibe of the instrumental from ‘Sinking’ matches the meaning of the song pretty well; on this track, Clairo is singing about how her rheumatoid arthritis negatively affects her live over a downtrodden but chill R&B instrumental. The melody is very melancholy but also sort of hopeful in away. On ‘Sinking,’ Clairo is encouraging us to live our lives to the fullest and take care of problems right when they pop up because you never know when it will be too late to fix the problem at hand. The album ends with what is probably the weirdest and most experimental song of the album, the genre-less ‘I Wouldn’t Ask You.’ Clairo is singing to her lost love about her medical condition, assuring her that Clairo would never make that person take care of her. Clairo is strong and will get through it without needing help from this person. This track starts out with a piano-driven singer-songwriter vibe and slowly picks up a sort of trap beat along the way. Throughout the song, the vocal effects become increasingly strange, at one point almost sounding robotic or alien. Although this song does get a bit weird at times, I appreciate the fact that Clairo is trying to push the boundaries of what her music is supposed to me. I am excited to see her continue this trend in the future.
The very polarized nature of the online response to this album has honestly been very surprising to me. If you look up reviews or opinions for this record on Google and Youtube, you will find just as many people who really disliked it as people who absolutely love it. Sometimes that is the nature of great art, though; art that challenges the consumer in ways they may not necessarily like typically ends up being the most important in the long run. I think that with time, the reception of this album will end up being mostly very positive. Because it is a little slow at times and pretty unlike other popular music of today, I think there are people that rushed through it and did not appreciate the intricacies of Immunity. As these songs age and people get to hear them more, I think the people who disliked the album for being slow or monotonous will end up being to see the beauty of this album’s simplicity. In the meantime, Clairo’s stans will make sure that she knows how important of an artist she is.