It’s been a while since I’ve heard a record from an artist that is so unapologetically themselves. It’s been even longer since I’ve heard a record from an artist in which every song seems to hit home (in ways I may not even immediately understand).
I typically refrain from posting album reviews until I’ve had a minute to allow my feelings to settle. It can take weeks (sometimes months) to sink in. With 20-year-old Claire Cottrill’s debut album Immunity, it happened fast. Claire, better known as Clairo, truly gave us something special.
Each song seems to dance effortlessly with the next. I say this, though “effortlessly” is an interesting word to use – it is evident through both reading up on Clairo and the album’s distinct sound that Cottrill has poured her heart and soul into Immunity.
Claire’s inspiration for the record pours in from all directions. Cottrill bares her soul and speaks on her struggle with rheumatoid arthritis, depression, and her experiences with her sexuality/relationships with women. Sonically, each track’s inspiration comes from a different source: 90s R&B, James Blake, Tame Impala, etc. Claire even sites Toro Y Moi’s Chaz Bear as an inspiration for her choice to use autotune on the record.
Whatever the inspiration, Claire’s sound is deliberate and absolutely her own. Each sonic effect such as a choral sound or autotune is painstakingly chosen to convey a specific feeling or emotion.
While I wholeheartedly recommend listening to this record from start to finish, here are some of my favorite tracks.
At first listen, I fell in love with Sinking’s smooth R&B influence. This track implanted itself in my head (and, if I’m being candid, still hasn’t left). I constantly find myself softly singing the melody.
While at its surface the track presents itself as sultry and sensual, the lyrics reveal an insecurity: the track touches on Cottrill’s arthritis and how it can hinder intimacy.
I Wouldn’t Ask You
“I Wouldn’t Ask You” is Immunity’s closing track. I am continuously impressed and consumed by its ability to make me…feel. The track is seemingly split into two halves; the first, slightly melancholy in sound. The second, a heavenly 180. In an interview with PAPER, Claire explains each half. The first depicts a relationship in which her partner has assumed the role of caretaker due to her intense arthritis flares. The second half becomes euphoric. It is what she calls a “rebirth;” a world where her arthritis doesn’t exist and she is no longer hindered. The choral effects repeated throughout the album are present in both halves, but it is backed in this second half with harps and blissful harmonies.
“Sofia” quickly became one of my favorites on Immunity. I was immediately struck by its vocal melodies and layers. Driven by drums, this song is celebratory, positive, and one I found to be profoundly cathartic. According to GENIUS, the song touches on Claire’s feelings for women and some of her first female crushes.
Clairo has created a body of work that is so undeniably hers, and it’s better than we dreamed it’d be. The record evokes a plethora of emotions, but ultimately leaves us with this: Immunity is an impeccable album.
You can purchase/stream Clairo’s Immunity here.