Published Jul 30, 2019Claire Cottrill (known professionally as Clairo) rose swiftly in 2017 on the strength of her disarmingly simple "Pretty Girl," which gained immense popularity on YouTube. Seized upon by the online bedroom-pop scene as a rising star, she was soon disavowed once its gatekeepers learned her debut EP (the promising Diary 001) was released on Fader Label, a company to which her well-connected father had not insignificant professional ties.
Irrespective of these scenester politics, Cottrill continues to impress on her debut full-length Immunity, and with just enough murky production values to please her early DIY fans.
The album opens very strongly with "Alewife," a powerful exploration of friendship and suicidal ideation that hits hard, and sets the tone for Cottrill's appealing brand of confessional introspection. Previously released single "Bags" is the other obvious highlight here, although it loses momentum somewhat after the first excellent chorus, in favour of an extended filtered piano section that doesn't quite pay off.
This isn't the only sign of underdevelopment on Immunity either: "Impossible" features throwaway bars that are clearly placeholders; and the extended amateur children's choir that closes "Softly" (for almost a minute-and-a-half) will be skipped by many.
Missteps like these would gall more on an album less promising overall. If Immunity sounds a bit like an album cobbled together to capitalize on Cottrill's overnight success, its grab-bag approach to style and production is arguably its strength as well. Hearing Cottrill swing from folk-pop to grungy guitars to electro ("Sofia," which sounds like a Marina and the Diamonds track has snuck onto your playlist) is impressive, and she inhabits all these modes easily.
Elsewhere, some of the more beat-driven tracks sound like Canadian duo Milk & Bone, and it would be remiss not to mention Faye Webster (both were born in Atlanta, GA), whose timbre and laidback delivery Cottrill shares much in common with.
Clairo's stylistic variability sets her apart from these artists however, and while some more time and resources wouldn't be unwelcome on a sophomore effort, Immunity confirms she's one to watch. (Fader)