Clairo finds firm ground in her sound, balancing shinier R&B and gloomy lo-fi indie.
GENRE: INDIE POP / ALTERNATIVE R&B RELEASE DATE: 2 AUGUST 2019
One of the clearest impressions you’ll get after sitting through Immunity is the much more polished and well-defined approach. Known for her often whispered and murmured singing from her bedroom pop days of Pretty Girl and Flaming Hot Cheetos, Immunity sees her collaborating with Rostam Batmanglij (formerly of Vampire Weekend) and Danielle Haim to produce a more voluminous version of all the heartfelt and gorgeous lyricism that she is already known for.
Occasionally the album wades through cavernous, spacey soundscapes for her stories of solitude, yearning for past friendships and the gradual discovering of her bisexuality. In the starting track Alewife, you’ll get a good teaser of this mood, which feels as minimal as possible in order to highlight her voice - now more pronounced than ever. There are a lot of beautiful moments of harmonies, even when subtle, that solidifies all of the bedroom, homegrown sentimentality, like in the track Impossible when she harmonises with Danielle Haim.
The strong suit of Immunity to me is the clearer sense of rhythm and tune backed by Danielle Haim on drums and the fuzzy productions serving as a great vessel. The middle part of Immunity is what I consider to be the most reliably constructed part of the album. Starting with the song Bags you start some marked improvements in the composition.The song Bags is Clairo’s best yet, a cosy melodic indie anthem that still manages to provide ample space for this more ethereal undertone to her fresh sound. Sofia couples the heartwarming yet shaky anxiety of her experience in discovering that she’s fallen in love with her girl friend with a beautiful arrangement of fuzzy guitars that sounds like a Strokes cut from their Comedown Machine days and also the dance pop sensuality of artists like Robyn. Softly has every risk of falling apart, especially if you’re not one for Clairo’s R&B leanings, but it turned out to be a warm, wholesome cut of R&B that is decidedly catchy and romantic. In this song, Clairo lets out all of her affectionate emotions without falling into a pit of corniness.
While the positives are plenty, there are moments that unfortunately feels less congruous or exciting. The track Feel Something is ironically unassertive and feels like a half-hearted attempt at incorporating elements pf mild, derivative top 40’s pop from artists like Halsey or London Grammer. Sinking and North have great production in a vacuum, but feels awkwardly coupled with Clairo’s vocal lines at best; at worst forgettable to its core. Most of the emotion you can tap from Closer to You is washed away by the clumsily executed autotune. Although the last track I Wouldn’t Ask You functions as a beautiful conclusion for the confident-whilst-vulnerable state of Clairo’s songwriting, the first part of the track trudges on too long before the transition into children’s choir. Although, it must be noted that the choir in this song is used so tastefully; just enough to add nuance to emotion, but not too much that it overpowers the song.
New Clairo is more surefooted, more deliberate in the craftsmanship of her words and arrangements. In elevating her sound that is reminiscent of an atmosphere involving warm beds which unwittingly invites dark thoughts, she’s invited angels into the bedroom - all different aspects for her self-confidence coming together. Everything intimate, personal and vulnerable is now filtered thoughtfully through a celestial lens. While still being a great listen overall, the real downfall is that this magic doesn’t sgube consistently throughout the whole record.
3.5 / 5
“Bags”, “Sofia”, “Softly”