Sling is a proof of maturity for Clairo, it is also a delicious adventure to be consumed without moderation. This new album delivers an almost impeccable instrumentation, where the singer puts her angelic voice and her writing in ideal conditions.
Clairo Cottrill is the kind of Singer-Songwriter/Musician artist in the air of time who illustrates herself perfectly by her journey as admirable as fascinating. The singer with the soft, tender voice, know
n for her dreamy instrumentation is the symbol of a new generation of artist categorized as Bedroom Pop. In a few words, an Indie Pop/Lo-Fi style where the artist usually performs alone and at home, far from the conventional studio means. A phenomenon amplified by the dimension that the Internet takes in the industry and the musical development, which allows to retranscribe a particularly intimate and sincere music, immediate enough to please a large public. The native of Atlanta, now 22 years old, has followed in the footsteps of influential pioneers of the genre such as (Sandy) Alex G or Mac DeMarco, as well as influences of the 80s and 90s, to become in turn viral in 2017 thanks to Pretty Girl. Nothing was an easy task, she had to impose herself, progress and wipe the critics of her detractors, which led her in 2019 with the album Immunity to its consecration, recorded this time in real studios even if it keeps the authentic flavors of the beginning. In a mixture of Indie Pop, Dream Pop and Indietronica, Clairo is truly one of the voices to follow, as shown by the attraction around her new and "second" album Sling.
Having the will to go to a higher stage, touched by a maturity and more globally by this pandemic context, Clairo surrounds herself with the famous producer Jack Antonoff, for a 180° turn, especially if we want to compare the independence and the Bedroom Pop style of her beginnings compared to the experience proposed from now on. One notices then the multiple contribution of several additional musicians coming to support the singer, in arrangements similar to the popular stars of the Pop. On the other hand, on Sling, Clairo keeps the atmosphere and the intimate content at all costs, so that she doesn't move away entirely from her initial characteristics. This is also what makes the beauty of Clairo's music. Among other new resolutions, Clairo abandons its Indie Pop / Dream Pop for a Contemporary Folk / Chamber Folk aesthetic, sprinkled with Baroque elements, synth funk and Rhythm and Blues reminiscent of the first half of the 70's with Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, Steely Dan or even Carole King. Nothing sounds like a faithful retro, like the direction chosen for example by St. Vincent on her last album Daddy Home's. By doing so, Clairo makes sure to keep on being in the air of time, while elevating her creativity compared to her previous work, as Lana Del Rey or Taylor Swift could do recently with the help also of Jack Antonoff in the Singer-Songwriter register.
Clairo has never delivered herself as much as on Sling, as much emotionally as thematically as if she was facing a mirror, isolated in her own bubble. We usually find themes, taken from her recent experiences of isolation with her family, when we become aware of many things that we missed before. Guided by a very feminine soul, Sling shows the reflections that its author carries towards her evolution as a woman, but to consider motherhood and the development of a family. All these elements together with the others, allow this album to be a deeply touching subject. Yes, this album can be delightful, just as it can be upsetting. Sincerely, it is a real surprise that Clairo offers us on Sling. She transforms the main defects of Immunity, a too present naivety and especially the irregularities that this previous album proposes, to deliver an ambitious, thoughtful, pure and terribly endearing work.
Fasten your seatbelt and let yourself be carried away by a colorful experience. First of all, Bambi, a lullaby with an enchanting orchestration so irresistible that it reminds me why I love music. A divine mix of piano, brass, tender bass lines, melodies that caress you. It is not the mood of Amoeba which will make you go down of a floor, quite to the contrary, Clairo proposes the time of a moment its neo-disco symbol of the pandemic period, which it combines with a cosy Soft Rock to remain concentrated on the soul of Sling. Without forgetting the work that Jack Antonoff, additional musicians who come to add layers of instrumentations, as well as nuances throughout the album so that no song seems insignificant. On Partridge for example, totally different from the previous song, Clairo delivers a hypnotic ballad, where bluesy and jazzy instrumental subtlety takes you away for a comforting moment.
Sometimes, I am really surprised by the instrumentation, as if totally seduced. Zinnias offers a vocal performance of Clairo as a secondary element of the instrumental, sometimes leaving the expression to elements that do not speak directly. We just have to let ourselves be carried away again, like a flight inside an airplane, or on a road trip on the passenger seat of a car, contemplating the landscapes that follow one another. Blouse, the first single that sums up the colors that we would find on the whole of Sling, Clairo offers an introspective lullaby tinged with Indie Folk, where the narration deals with a subject of unhealthy interaction between a woman and a man, the first one wants to be heard, the second one seems more captivated by the outfit and the body of her interlocutor. We feel the sadness of this scene, where Clairo seems to be downcast, while ironizing the situation. Through this simplistic narration, but which brings to light a human reality, Clairo manages to show her maturity and these facts that we keep in ourselves although it can hurt. Blouse is the perfect counterpoint to Zinnias, since the narration and the emotion delivered by the singer must be the main element of the song, which is remarkably successful. It was sensational on the other hand to be able to find in this new album an instrumental like Joanie, a lovely psychedelic soul, a rare choice for popular singers like Clairo.
Wade reminds me of the ballad that Paul McCartney offered at the time, especially by this catchy melody and the tone of voice as sweet as intimate. To support Clairo, the acoustic instrumentation is mixed with harmonic layers delivering, always so intoxicating to place you in an absolute comfort, without ever sounding like a stereotype, nor in a generic way. Generally speaking, Sling avoids this trap every time for my taste. Certainly, Clairo and Jack Antonoff have not invented anything, nor revolutionized anything here. Sometimes even the album likes to retranscribe the simplicity of the emotions proposed by its author, voluntarily as love is often. In a more orchestral register, Harbor follows in the footsteps of Wade, Sling holds you until the end. Harbor is a narrative of a demonstration of a well-oiled folk pop ballad. The end of Sling is more intimate, and this is felt right down to the intrumentation and interpretation, Reaper opens the ball as a key element of the themes of this new album, family and the future. Little Change externalizes the anxiety and shows the generosity of Clairo. Finally, Management concludes the album in apotheosis, summing up almost all the elements of this one, supported by a magical orchestration. It is necessary to believe that there are few things to reproach to Sling, it is undeniably true. In addition to the lack of musical experimentation, I find to add some defects that Clairo's singing sometimes lacks surprises, to leave its comfort zone. Her writing is much improved, but not at the level of the most wonderful Singer-Songwriters of our time. Actually what I remember is that Sling is a step I didn't expect, a really fantastic experience.