Album Review: Clairo – Sling
George Ward gives a review of Clairo’s latest album, Sling.
On the cover of Sling, Clairo is cuddling her dog and this picture sums up the cosiness and loveliness of her most intimate project yet.
Clairo started making music when she was 13 and became loved after releasing ‘Pretty Girl‘ in 2017, a song and video she made in her bedroom. It was fun and insanely catchy and currently has 244,663,081 plays on Spotify. Her debut album, Immunity, was a departure from this bedroom pop sound, with some great indie-pop songs and, once again, Clairo has shaken things up again with Sling.
effortless to listen to but never boring
The production is, as expected from Jack Antonoff, wonderfully simple, and the music sounds completely natural, with no unnecessary bells and whistles: just Clairo’s excellent songwriting with acoustic guitars, lush pianos and strings and her hushed harmonies.
The songs here are uncomplicated but warm and Clairo’s writing has never been more classic and thoughtful. On ‘Bambi‘, she sings ” I don’t like to cry before I know why But honestly, I might” and it’s this painful honesty that makes the album so special. We all know the feelings that Clairo sings about but it’s not until she puts them into words that we realise how tricky this is to do while still being catchy and listenable.
On my favourite song, ‘Blouse‘, Clairo sings about the difficulty of being honest in a relationship when she feels constantly objectified.
“Why do I tell you how I feel, when you’re too busy looking down my blouse… If touch could make them hear then touch me now.”
The lyrics are heartbreaking and while her previous songs have felt honest, this feels more raw than anything she’s done before. The instrumental consists of just an Elliott Smith style acoustic guitar, quiet strings and gorgeous backing harmonies. Nothing more is necessary to tell this story.
‘Blouse‘ really does feel like it has existed for years and this is very much a good thing. It has the sound of a classic and on a 22 year-old’s second album, this is incredibly impressive.
‘Amoeba‘ is a poppier song that is so catchy that it reminds you straight away of Clairo’s bedroom pop tracks and by comparing the two you can see just how far she has come since then. Where cleaner production and more thoughtful lyrics could spoil the charm of her music, instead it makes it even better while keeping the catchy choruses of songs like ‘Pretty Girl’.
Not every track is as memorable as these and songs such as ‘Partridge’ and ‘Just for Today’ might not work as lead singles, they work nicely in the middle of the album and with every play, the album is effortless to listen to but never boring.
With lots of similar artists like Phoebe Bridgers or Taylor Swift going in this folky direction, Clairo could run the risk of being forgotten but when final track ‘Management‘ comes on with its playful strings and emotional build-ups, she completely holds her own among these great albums. Don’t expect anything groundbreaking but do expect a lovely cosy album which is one of the best this year so far.