By Minah Thomas
Claire Cottrill, or Clairo, released her debut album, Immunity, on August 2nd after months of anticipation. The 20-year-old online sensation gained a voice in her low-fi EP, "diary 001," but has entered the realm of stardom with her newest release.
Clairo was born in Atlanta, Georgia to Geoff Cottrill, a well-known marketing executive for companies like Starbucks and Coca-Cola. However, the musician grew up in Carlisle, Massachusetts and attended Concord-Carlisle High School, where she posted covers on Bandcamp. She later attended Syracuse University, where she started to experiment with music and short-films, which resulted in the birth of "Pretty Girl."
The song gained the attention of many record labels, specifically FADER Label, which she signed with. A New York Times article proposed that nepotism was to blame for all of the buzz, due to her father's connections in the industry. However, the song showcases Clairo's untouchable song-writing abilities. "Pretty Girl" led to a string of singles that would identify the singer as "bedroom pop" and pave the way for her career.
The drive behind Clairo's Immunity traces directly to the experiences of a teenage girl. The album touches on the angst of being a girl, sexuality, depression, and physical disability. At 17, Clairo was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease that informed the record’s title. She also recently clarified her sexuality to her Twitter followers with a tweet. It reads,"‘B.O.M.D.’ is also ‘G.O.M.D.’ for ur information,” in reference to one of her songs that describes meeting the boy (or girl) of her dreams.
Clairo's producer and mentor, Rostam Batmanglij (formerly of Vampire Weekend), supported her vision to drift away from bedroom pop and approach new techniques on Immunity. Clairo experiments with guitar, piano, synths, and clearer, more distinct vocals in her debut. The clarity of her voice may have to do with her intent to be more vulnerable. The singer admits in an i-D interview, “The whole record is really just things I never thought I would tell anyone.
"I was given a platform and even if I’m still figuring my sexuality out, I need to be open and I need to let the world know that whatever they’re feeling, in their small town, lots of other people are also feeling.”
"Bags" was the first single to be release. The song was recently named on Pitchfork's 'The 200 Best Songs of the 2010s."
This song is my personal favorite on the record. It approaches the heartache of having a lover that could leave at any moment. Clairo sings— "I can't read you but, if you want, the pleasure's all mine/Can you see me using everything to hold back?/I guess this could be worse/Walking out the door with your bags."
"Closer To You" is Clairo's take on a toxic relationship. The stanza starting at the beginning of the song is the most impactful. Lyrics include—"I feel it in my bones/Even when I'm alone/Mama said, 'I told you so'/Going down a different road."
Although the lyrics are melancholy, Clairo includes a power-ballad guitar on the chorus that alters the entire mood.
The third single released by Clairo was "Sofia." This song is a conversation between Clairo and her lover, Sofia. It is more of a love letter, since Clairo is listing the reasons they should give their love a try. She sings, "I think we could do it if we tried/If only to say, you're mine/Sofia, know that you and I/Shouldn't feel like a crime." Clairo wants Sofia to know that although those around them may judge them for being together, their relationship is completely just.
Clairo dropped her album Immunity on August 2, 2019, with eleven tracks. The album is wholeheartedly a coming-of-age record, not just in content and writing but in terms of sound as well. The drumbeat in many of the songs is recognizable, due to Danielle Haim's influence. On many tracks, Clairo inserts children's choirs, creating a euphoric tone. She sounds more confident on this record than ever before. Through her experimentation with R&B sounds, synths, and autotune, Clairo shows her progression from a YouTube sensation to a certified musician.
Clairo sums up the record herself in her i-D interview—"Sometimes I have felt like I was just this person I didn’t even know because I wasn’t allowing myself to connect with the things that I can’t deny, whether it’s my health or my sexuality. I’ve come to realize that a lot of what makes me weak actually has made me so much stronger and that’s what the whole record, to me, embodies."
Catch Clairo's performance at Paradise Rock Club on November 20 & 21!