Every week, we tell you about an album we think you need to spend time with. This week’s album is Immunity, the debut full-length from internet pop sensation Clairo.
At just 20 years old, even before releasing her debut album, Clairo’s already had the kind of career that most teens making pop songs in their home and putting them on the internet could only dream of. In 2017, after about 3 years of putting her home recordings on the internet, the homemade video for her song “Pretty Girl” — which is now up to over 36 million views — went viral basically over night. Two years later, she’s releasing her Rostam Batmanglij-produced debut on FADER Label due out August 2.
In her earliest recordings (singles like “Get With U” and “2 Hold U”), dreamy synth lines and muddy percussion cloud the atmosphere and her voice falls into the background, often reduced to an unintelligible whisper. It’s a stylistic choice as close as you can get to those adolescent moments you wished you were invisible. And while that carries with its own narrative, its own beauty, it makes it all the more jarring that every word out of Claire Cottrill's mouth on Immunity is crystal clear.
In between her “Pretty Girl” days and Immunity, Clairo was thrust into a forced self-actualization process at a break-neck speed. Between being pined after by major labels, gaining over a million instagram followers, managing the demands of touring with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, publicly coming out (“I'm still not really sure what my sexuality is, but I do know that it's not straight," she told Out), and facing a wave of criticism regarding the validity of her success, it’s safe to say she's been through it. But even with all that going on, at a famously universally confusing stage of life, Clairo’s emerged from it all with self-assurance and lucidity, ready to celebrate and share even the trickiest parts of it.
“When you’re discovering your sexuality, it can be a really hard, sad, lonely process. But it was important for me to repurpose that sadness in a way to create space for me and other people who were also going through it… by singing a song that’s made for that and not made for a straight couple. You’re not having to change the pronouns to make it about yourself,” she told I-D in an interview in May. “[These songs] feel so celebratory and confident. Which are things I don’t always feel, but listening to those songs make me want to dance around my room about how happy I am that I see the world this way and that women are beautiful.”
“I never let anybody in / somehow you got under my skin,” she sings on catchy, upbeat swooner “North.” But if Immunity’s proof of anything, it’s that it's ready to let everyone in all at once.
Amileah Sutliff is a New York-based writer, editor and creative producer and an editor of the book The Best Record Stores in the United States.