Release Date: Aug 2, 2019
Record label: Fader
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Pop
a taut rope In listening to Clairo's Immunity, it's clear that she's come a long way from the timid and coarsely produced bedroom pop of metal heart. That's to be expected; while it was technically her official debut, it was also created at the age of fifteen. Immunity sounds the part of a woman now across the threshold of her twenties: it's deep in thought, full of confidence, and also a little confused at times.
Clairo's breakout single "Pretty Girl" went extremely viral: a lo-fi video shot webcam-style amid dorm-room decor, and a sardonic popular-feminist message ("I could be a pretty girl, shut up when you want me to") that was an easy in even for those who didn't normally scour the online lands for bedroom pop. But preceding that chorus was a verse with a precisely observed snapshot of the moment one notices there's nothing anymore where heartbreak used to be: "Polaroid of you dancing in my room… I think it was about noon/It's getting hard to understand how you felt in my hands. " It's a careful bit of writing belied by its hype, and an early indicator that Claire Cottrill's heart lay in songwriting, not content production.
Claire 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 ….
In barely two years, Internet ingénue Claire Cottrill (aka Clairo) has graduated from the homemade and adorable "Pretty Girl" video that went viral, plus "Flaming Hot Cheetos"— a song that compares the confusion of a schoolgirl crush to the guilty pleasure of junk food— to release this polished debut. It is co-helmed by producer extraordinaire Rostam Batmanglij and even features Danielle Haim on drums in several tracks. A bit of gestation might have led to more experimentation and vivid colors in an album with a handful of standouts but also tracks that tend to bleed indistinguishably into each other.
Clairo's five or so years as a rising, teenaged Bandcamp self-releaser turned social media star included viral songs such as "Pretty Girl" and "Flaming Hot Cheetos" as well as collaborations with fellow bedroom pop phenoms Cuco and Jakob Ogawa. On her full-length major-label debut, Immunity, while she maintains a feel largely defined by soft vocals and a woozy atmosphere, she officially leaves the bedroom behind. Co-produced by Vampire Weekend alum Rostam, the album's velvety textures sound constructed rather than preprogrammed, and guest Danielle Haim plays live drums on several tracks.
The Lowdown: In the context of web-native artists circa 2019, a full-length album almost seems old-fashioned. Twenty-year-old Claire Cottrill, who records as Clairo, stirred backlash with the early viral success of her 2017 song "Pretty Girl", which she recorded in her bedroom (to date, it has over 36 million streams on YouTube). With the release of Immunity, she should finally put any lingering questions about the caliber and longevity of her talent to rest.
Back in 2017, Claire Cottrill was just another university student with lofty ambitions of making a career out of music. Her breakout single, 'Pretty Girl' was a subtle but sublime slice of bedroom pop that, coupled with an endearingly DIY music video, catapulted her from obscure to viral blisteringly quickly. Now better known as Clairo, the 20-year-old musician arrives with her debut album 'Immunity', a project that sees her continue to distance herself from the trappings of the bedroom pop label that was initially ascribed to her.
T wenty-year-old Clairo broke through in 2017 with Pretty Girl, a lo-fi pop song about trying to look cute for a toxic partner, over a cheap drum machine and keyboard. It was the sort of thing that indie artists churn out year on year, and yet its bedroom-recorded music video got 36m views on YouTube, its relatability and defiantly anti-Instagram aesthetic chiming with a certain kind of emotionally frustrated, self-loathing teenager, which is to say nearly all of them. She's already toured the world, and is now preparing to open for fellow Gen-Z star Khalid in the US.
Somehow Clairo can sound unaffected, even when her voice is dripping with effects. "I need to hear your voice," she sings, artfully autotuned deep into some acoustic uncanny valley, and I'm like, same. Something about her delivery, like a secret breathlessly confessed to a close confidante late at night or the hushed denouement of a John Hughes film, makes me want to believe her.
V irality's a fickle mistress, as Massachusetts singer-songwriter Claire Cottrill discovered last year. A viral hit recorded in her bedroom - Pretty Girl - sent her soaring on YouTube's algorithm, but the crash came soon after. Cottrill's father is a marketing executive; her record deal was secured through his contacts. And so, whispers began bubbling up from the cesspit depths of Reddit that she was an "industry plant".