CLAIRO – SLING REVIEW

Clairo has had a significantly interesting and unexpected transition as a musician from when she first became popular and now. When she first blew up, she became known for making insanely catchy lo-fi bedroom synth-pop that will make anyone want to dance immediately when they hear it. Her songs like ‘Pretty Girl’ and ‘Flaming Hot Cheeto’ took the internet by storm, becoming popular on all social media apps. The low-key and laid-back nature of her music and persona made her extremely relatable to her listeners, which endeared Clairo to anyone who heard her. When Clairo decided to release her first album, she decided to go down a completely different path with her music. She switched to making music that ranges between Yacht Rock, Dream Pop, Ethereal, and Soft Folk Rock. Instead of continuing with the Bedroom Pop genre she helped pioneer, she started making music inspired by artists like Simon and Garfunkel, The Cocteau Twins, and Public Image Ltd. Clairo’s first album, Immunity, received critical acclaim. Listeners appreciated how atmospheric and breezy the music from this record is as well as how personal, sophisticated, and honest the lyricism is. Clairo’s second album, Sling, is said to veer further away from the sounds she originally became popular for. This record is said to venture more into sounds like Baroque Pop and Folk music. With that being said, here is my opinion on Clairo’s Sling. Please let me know in the comments below if you agree with my review of this record, and also let me know what your favorite songs from this album are down in the comment section.

Aren’t you glad that you reside in a hell and in disguise? Nobody yet everything a pool to shed your memory. Could you say you even tried? You haven’t called your family twice. I can hope tonight goes differently. But I show up to the party just to leave... – ‘Amoeba’

I have to say, after knowing about how much her music changed from her debut to what it sounded like on her first album and after hearing that this record pushes her sound away from what she is known for even further, I had no idea what to expect coming into this record. Even if I had a general idea of what I thought this record would be like, I still could have never predicted that the first song, ‘Bambi,’ would have the sound it has. This track has a grandiose Piano Rock feeling that makes me think of artists like Elton John and Billy Joel. The melody is so warm and encompassing, and Clairo’s sweet and soft vocals make the listener feel soft and cozy. I love the way this song is produced. Clairo’s vocals are layered in a way that makes her sound majestic and almost other-worldly, and the various instruments(a piano, drums, guitars, and various horns) fade in and out in a way that almost feels like waves moving back and forth on a beach. The warm and cozy sound of ‘Bambi’ creates a juxtaposition with its lyrics. On ‘Bambi,’ Clairo is singing about her struggles with the music industry and becoming a celebrity, as she does not seem to enjoy her popularity. She loves the fact that she is able to make money off of her art and share it with the world but hates the fact that people become more attached to her than they do to the music. The next song, ‘Amoeba,’ has quickly become a fan favorite, and it is easy to see why; this track is incredibly catchy. Once again, it starts with a warm and sweet piano riff that welcomes the listener in. This piano riff quickly distorts a bit, though, taking on a steel drum sort of sound that reminds me a lot of Caribbean Calypso music. ‘Amoeba’ is a lot more fast-paced than the first song on the album, and the beat for this track is one that will make anyone start to bop their head and move their feet. As ‘Amoeba’ progresses, it starts to remind me more and more of old-school Surf Pop and Yacht Rock. It kind of feels like a crossover between the Beach Boys and Carly Simon. On ‘Amoeba,’ Clairo is singing about being sucked in the life of being a celebrity and musician and forgetting where you came from and what makes you happy. After slipping up a bit and getting into a bad mental state, Clairo realized she had to figure out what her priorities are and do things for herself and not for the advancement of her career. ‘Partridge’ is a slow and soft Piano Pop song that sounds very atmospheric and angelic. I do not even know what artist I can compare this song too, as it is not like anything else that I have listened to frequently. Like she has before, with ‘Partridge’ Clairo is carving her lane in Pop music. For as celestial and pleasant this song sounds, the lyrics take on a much darker meaning and tone. In ‘Partridge,’ Clairo is talking about giving it her all in a relationship with someone who does not care about her the way she does about them. She loved this person and tried to make it work as much as she could, but she could feel it becoming more and more one-sided as her partner started to care less and less. Following this, we get ‘Zinnias,’ which has a completely different sound from any of the first three songs from this record. This song has a Folk and Pub Rock sound that reminds me of a lot of artists like Simon and Garfunkel or Dire Straits; ‘Zinnias’ has a bluesy feeling to the riff, but ultimately this is Clairo’s first dive into Folk-Rock on this record. This sound suits her vocal style very well and brings out how intricate her songwriting can be. On this track, Clairo seems to be thinking of a simpler life than the one she has. She wonders what it would be like to settle down and have children and raise her family in American South which is where she is from. ‘ZInnias’ is a sweet song that shows a simple and mature side to Clairo that is way beyond her age.

If ‘Zinnias’ was sort of like dipping one’s toe into Folk music, the next song, ‘Blouse,’ is like a headfirst dive into the genre. This is an acoustic Folk track that reminds me a lot of Taylor Swift’s new music. It is very sweet and catchy, and the way the vocals are arranged is so pretty and interesting. Clairo’s voice works super well for this kind of song. The way she can fluctuate her tone and change up the inflection in her voice makes her harmonies with herself sound super nice. ‘Blouse’ is a song that demonstrates how talented of a singer Clairo is. Lyrically, this song is about men making Clairo feel uncomfortable as she tries to have a normal conversation with them. As she is trying to let the man in this song know how she feels, she can sense him trying to look inside her shirt as she leans over; he is more concerned with sneaking a peek at her body when he is not welcomed to than he is in listening to what she has to say. ‘Wade’ brings us back to the Acoustic Rock sound that we heard at the beginning of this record. Once again, this song reminds me a lot of artists like Elton John and Billy Joel. I love how warm and inviting the instrumental for this song is. ‘Wade’ is another track with a fuzzy and cozy guitar and piano riff that is bound to calm anyone down and put them in a better mood when they hear it. ‘Wade’ is supposed to be an inspirational song about doing what you want to do and being who you want to be. On this track, ‘Clairo’ is urging her audience to pursue their dreams and to do the things that make them happy before it is too late. Instead of watching life pass us by, we need to take advantage of the short amount of time we have here and make sure we have a lot of fun. The next song, ‘Harbor,’ is a song that combines two types of music that Clairo has proven she can excel at; this song starts with an atmospheric and light Chamber Pop sound that is sort of reminiscent of some of her early music, and it transitions to an Acoustic Folk sound that is closer to a lot of the other music from this album. I appreciate the fact she started the song with a Piano Pop sound that brings us back to the music she started out making, as it proves she still has the ability to transition back to what people originally started listening to her for. The folk sound that the song morphs into does fit the tone and melody super well, so this transition does make a lot of sense. On ‘Harbor,’ Clairo is once again singing about the one-sided relationship she referred to earlier in the song. This person knows how attached she was to them; they were aware of the fact that they could do whatever they wanted and show no affection and Clairo will still show them love and try to make it work. Even though Clairo realized how emotionally burdening this situation was, it was super tough for her to let go. Following this, we get ‘Just For Today,’ which is another Acoustic Folk track that has excellent production which brings out the best in Clairo’s vocals and makes her lyric writing ability shine. This is another song with a warm and fuzzy melody that emphasizes Clairo’s voice and makes it in itself sound as cozy as possible. The feeling this song gives me is one of sitting by a fire on a winter night with a blanket and a cup of hot cocoa. ‘Just For Today’ is another track where the sweet and welcoming sound of the song creates an interesting juxtaposition with its subject matter. Clairo sings about her anxiety and depression on this song, even referring to a time where she had to use the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. Hearing Clairo get so candid about this makes me as a listener who also struggles with similar issues feel closer to her and relate to her. When people you respect open up about it, it makes it feel less lonely. I appreciate that Clairo was able to make a song like this, as I know it has helped so many people who also suffer from mental health problems.

I’m born to be somebody then somebody comes from me. I’ll tell you ’bout the Rabbit Moon and when to keep walking. I’ll spare you pain, I can feel my shame come through that door. I can’t fuck it up if it’s not there at all… – ‘Reaper’

‘Joanie’ is the first instrumental track that Clairo has released on an album. This song is named for Clairo’s dog, who Clairo has stated in the past is a big inspiration for the sound of her music. ‘Joanie’ is a track that sort of combines and highlights all of the kinds of music on this record. It has a section that is Acoustic Piano Pop, a section that is Elton John style Piano Rock, a section of Acoustic Folk, and a section of Folk Rock. It is a very well-put-together instrumental track that shows off the talents of Clairo’s band and goes with the flow of the album super well. Following this, we get ‘Reaper,’ which is a Southern-style Folk track with a grand and angelic instrumental that is so nice to listen to. The way the instruments are layered and the way the vocals are arranged are so pleasant and inviting; the sound of this song almost has an innocent feeling to it. ‘Reaper’ is an interesting tack lyrically where Clairo is talking about how taking care of her dog makes her think about motherhood. She is excited yet scared to be a mother; she is afraid to have someone depend on her but knows she needs to have another person to give that undying love to soon. The next song, ‘Little Changes,’ brings back the acoustic Piano Pop sound Clairo enjoys dabbling in. This is another track with a nice and sweet piano riff that is so welcoming and warm. Similar to so many other songs on this record, the vocal production of this song is wonderful. The way the producers use Clairo’s voice in so many ways is encompassing and almost otherworldly. In ‘Little Changes,’ Clairo is singing about a failed relationship. While dating this person, she felt like they wanted to help her, but only in their way. She could feel them trying to manipulate and change her as time went on, and she did not want to be with someone that made her feel like she could not be herself. The album closes out with the song ‘Management.’ This song has one of the most eclectic instrumentals out of everything on this record. It has elements of Piano Rock and Folk music; these genres are sort of mashed up in a very unique way. ‘Management’ does has a warm melody similar to the music from the rest of the record, but the pacing of this song has an anxious feeling to it. ‘Management’ has a sort of existential dread to the lyricism of the record. On this track, Clairo is stressing about taking care of her dog, motherhood, her future in general, and her friends. On this track, she seems to realize that as much as she wants to be in control of everything, she knows she is in control of so little. It is not a realization that brings much comfort to her, but it is the truth of the matter.

Clairo is an artist who has had an amazing amount of growth in the short time she has been making music. From the moment her music started becoming popular online to now, she has transitioned from making sweet and simple Bedroom Pop to sophisticated Folk and Piano Pop music that sounds like it comes from someone way beyond her age. She has matured in an extraordinary way, and she seems to be so wise and she has so much life experience for someone who is still so young. On Sling, she shows her maturity over and over again through the lyricism and instrumentals she creates. This album exposes a lot of her fears and vulnerabilities and it makes her very relatable to her audience. It also shows how eclectic of a musician she has become, as she can make music that is so reminiscent of her idols yet so individual to her at the same time. Clairo’s Sling is a diverse and sophisticated record that shows Clairo is one of the most talented rising stars in the music world.

Favorite Tracks – Bambi, Amoeba, Zinnias, Wade, Just For Today, Joanie, Reaper, Little Changes

7.97/10

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