In her digital cover feature of Rolling Stone, Clairo talks about songs as if they are like little ghosts. She’s thinking of the friendly, Phoebe Bridgers album-artwork kind: shaded in white chalk, black slits where the eyes would be, softly illuminated by a rainbow, dog (Joanie, maybe) in the background. The song that follows her around – that plays on the radio as she’s driving on the freeway, that pumps out of airport speakers at 3.a.m., sweetly interrupting a train of thought at any given point in time – is ‘Let’s Dance’ by David Bowie.
On her second full-length record ‘Sling’, Clairo (otherwise known as Claire Cottrill), is standing as her 22-year old self and languishing between velvety states of post-adolescent freedom and restless sensitivity. The twelve-track project was recorded during a month at Allaire Studios – a place known as New York’s best kept music industry secret, now that Max’s Kansas City isn’t so hot. Mixed by producer Jack Antonoff and featuring the background vocals of Lorde (on ‘Blouse’ among others), it feels only right that running through this record are the self-confident, bluesy echoes of old jazz.
At times ‘Sling’ sounds like it should be played strictly on Sunday mornings, with messy hair, coffee-stained bedsheets and bright sunlight streaming through shuttered windows.. At others, it basks in the warmth of easy street, black stockings and slip smooth against a vintage, grand piano. Opener ‘Bambi’ is effortless and sensual, with orchestral elements that carefully fade in and out. The overwhelming sensory quality that Clairo writes and records with, can be heard in ‘Amoeba’, a melody that sounds like the turquoise, azure, creamy beige and ivory tones of the seawater in spring.
‘Sling’ closes with grand string arrangements, perfectly controlled flairs of violin that reappear with other unexpected textures. (“Complain to the management / about my lack of self-respect”) Clairo murmurs on ‘Management’ a track that could be played in a locked bedroom, or conducted by a chamber orchestra. On ‘Sling’ there is a fascinating struggle between tenderness and moodiness, and ‘Management’ feels to be at the height of that tension, the majestic and feminine roughing it out against the restless and uncompromising; a battle of only victories.
Moving on from the playful, DIY era of ‘Immunity’, Clairo is clearer now on who she is and who she wants to be. On ‘Sling’ there is the sense that Clairo is in flight, except this time she isn’t running away from her little ghosts. On this record she runs towards them, even dances with them a little.
Dig This? Dig Deeper! The Walters, The Drums, awfultune
Words: Jessica Fynn
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