Written Before Listen
Clairo is a name that I am familiar with but never introduced myself to. She is known to be one of the big names of Bedroom Pop as her 2019 album Immunity was a popular release for the genre. As a genre goes, I am familiar with some of the artists involved. I am not familiar with the music itself. On the other hand, word on the street is that Clairo is teaming up with none other than modern day Tom Wilson, Jack Antonoff. Already in the year of 2021, he has produced “Chemtrails Over The Country Club”, “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” and “Daddy’s Home”. He is now producing this new Clairo album. It also turns out that he is producing the new Lorde album too. Knowing that Antonoff has his hands on this, it’s hard to figure out if this will be a bedroom pop record or not. Lets see and find out.
Clairo is not half-assing anything. She discusses a lot of introspective and conscious topics on this record. She is seriously vivid on here. She doesn’t sugarcoat or shy away. Its not like she is expressive and narrative based, but she is definitely a lyrics first kind of songwriter. The opening track “Bambi” shows this perfectly as she vividly tells a contemplation story in the span of 3 minutes. A song like “Blouse” is really impacting as a woman is looking for a good time while some male is too busy staring at that woman’s blouse. Surely topics like love and nostalgia are discovered here, but she also digs on escapism, mental health, motherhood and so much more. Clairo is truly a talent with a pencil.
I did not expect this album to be the way it was. I thought I was going to get something atmospheric and laid back, but I got something reminiscent of a 70s singer songwriter record. Think of people like Carole King, Joni Mitchell or James Taylor mixed with the indie stylings of Elliott Smith. Thats basically the style that I consider this album to be. There were a lot of 60s and 70s folk and singer songwriter influences but there was also 60s baroque influence as well. Think of artists like Scott Walker and Nick Drake where their acoustic instrumentation becomes backed with subtle electric guitar and orchestras. Thats probably due to Jack…
Speaking of Jack, let’s talk about the production. Like always, Jack does a great job. The instrumentation sounds modern without sounding too overbearing and commercial. A lot of pianos, hollow body guitars, acoustic guitar, electric piano and muffled drums. You know, the typical Jack Antonoff palette. The problem is that….Its kind of predictable now. Seeing what he did with Lanas and Taylors album, you can predict what he’ll do to this album without hearing it. The melancholy of the Lana album, the folkiness of the Taylor album and the soft rock stylings of the St Vincent album appear all in one. I’ll just say that it has its pros and cons
Now, let’s get to the vocals. Clairo did not wow me with any note she reached. Surely, thats not what she’s trying to accomplish but it made her songwriting more subtle. She takes a lot of cues from Elliott Smith and Sufjan Stevens as the vocals are melancholic, creamy and double tracked. For some reason, her vocals don’t pop as much as the artists I mentioned. Maybe its to do with the Jack Antonoff production or her range, but I just didn’t see the uniqueness in her style vocally.
Well, you’ll be glad to see that my thoughts on this album are more positive than negative, but it doest excuse from the forgeability and predictability of the music. There’s not really a track I disliked but only a small dose I loved. Jack doesn’t create anything entirely new and Claire is not a strong vocalist yet. Otherwise, Clairo proves and solidifies herself as a solid songwriter. I just wish this album was more memorable.
I liked this album. I didn’t love it, I didn’t dislike it. I just liked it. It’s a vibe. I like the songwriting, I like the whole stylistic approach as well as Jacks production despite the predictability. Overall, it’s a good album.