Clairo unpicks each stringy vein of my heart from the inside out, worming her way out through my throat, collecting my words and nestling in my voice box until I know her lyrics as if they’re my own. I have no business writing about this album as if I know anything about music production, as if the reasons I love this album can be boiled down to a riff, or a chord progression. And yet, I know Rostam has left his fingerprints in neat drum patterns all over this album. He echoes over every melody, rounding them into full, weighty songs. I don’t know if its the words or the music or the production but something in Immunity feels like it was born from my body, my best friends body, my sister’s body. Everything is delicate and violent at the same time – regrets and twinges are as heavy as they will be in fifty years, heavier even. Everything is felt at double speed, in technicolour, in slow motion, in black and white.
Softly is tingly, tender; nervous anxiety that sits in my sternum, bubbling and fizzing when eyes catch, hands touch. Joni Mitchell drifts through Bags; my heartbreak album and my one last time album talking, communicating, rubbing up against each other in my stomach and overlaying, sliding in and out of each other. Because Bags tells me that staying in discomfort, in uncertainty must be better than absence, than leaving altogether. Clairo gives us flushed cheeks and wine glasses and four minutes of opening a window to might-say and never-said and shouldn’t-say.
The pleasure’s all mine.
This time last year I wrote about female songwriters as storytellers rather than confessional poets, even though their songs sound just like the thoughts in my head. Nearly a year later, Clairo arrives and hands my own diary back to me, rewritten and distorted but remarkable in its similarity, so much that I double-take, double-check, and those imitations I wrote about last time seem to fall short in this doppelganger’s shadow.
Ice cold baby, I’m ice cold. Frank Ocean floats to the surface in Clairo’s lyrics, referenced from Pilot Jones on his first album. Flashbacks from years ago; a small girl’s voice jumps and squirms through the album, settling on the final track, I Wouldn’t Ask You, which stretches itself over seven minutes. Reminds me of Ocean’s Futura Free which lies at the end of Blonde, and revels in its open expansion, in its unmoored, roaming production free of beat and confinement. At the beginning of this year, I wrote in an essay about Blonde, about undoing hegemonic, fixed narratives through ‘queering’ traditional forms. Clairo sings about girls on Immunity, about the slippery unsure tender way that relationships between women can change and fracture and sit in a strange, magical in between.
Finally, quickly – Sofia. A song that articulates loving, worshipping women older and more famous and more accomplished – directors and artists and singers and actresses and writers, so so many writers. Sofia feels like all the love I have for these women who will never know me, and all the love I have for my best friends. Clairo and Rostam, I think, have made an album of finely tuned love songs filled with whispered confessions. I’d like to think it was made just for me.