A record to live out your cottagecore dreams to
Adam England
10:59 16th July 2021

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“Why do I tell you how I feel/When you’re too busy looking down my blouse?” Lead single ‘Blouse’ — one of the tracks on Sling featuring backing vocals from none other than Lorde — might be full of harmonious vocals over gentle strings, but the lyrics, inspired by workplace sexualisation, are from the mind of someone who’s not taking any shit. 

This juxtaposition of tender vocals and pensive, often ruminant lyrics is commonplace throughout Sling, Clairo’s eagerly-anticipated second album. More imposing than her 2019 debut Immunity, we move from bedroom pop to baroque pop with glistening strings and dreamy synth sounds...it’s unsurprising that Jack Antonoff has co-production credits.

With Antonoff’s influence (as an album, Sling isn’t entirely a world away from Taylor Swift’s folklore and evermore) and of course the backing vocals from Lorde, this could easily begin to take the form of a collaborative project; an indie pop supergroup, if you will. But it’s very much Clairo’s own album.

If you’re young, talented and — all too often — female, you’ll probably have the usual ‘industry plant’ allegations levelled at you. It’s not only Clairo; everyone from Billie Eilish to Lorde have been accused of using mummy and daddy’s connections to become internationally-successful in their teens. Yes, Clairo’s dad might have contacts, but you can’t deny that she’s seriously talented in her own right. Her vocals here are often stunning, wisping around ethereal strings to create a serene, tranquil experience.

‘Bambi’ is an atmospheric, comforting opener, followed by the more expansive ‘Amoeba’, which acts as a sort of outgoing, more-streetwise cousin. Clairo’s dog, Joanie, was a key influence on the album during production - indeed, the ninth track on the album, a minimalist piano ballad, is named after her. It then goes into the gentle folk-pop of ‘Reaper’ - and again the contrast between the music and the introspective lyrics ("I can’t fuck it up/if it’s not there at all") could be straight out of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, while ‘Zinnias’ is a real gem with its groovy little riffs and pulsating rhythms.  On ‘Little Changes’, Clairo’s vocals are front and centre — reiterating why we like the Georgia-born star so much — before the album comes to an end, finishing with the brooding, rousing ‘Management’.

Sling shows a more mature Clairo, displaying clear artistic growth and suggesting that the 22-year-old is becoming a real force to be reckoned with. It doesn’t feel as if she’s on new ground as such, rather that she’s built on the foundations of Fleetwood Mac, Taylor Swift and HAIM, amongst others. It’s the sort of record to live out your cottagecore dreams to, sat in front of a roaring fire with a cup of coffee and a dog by your feet: on Sling, Clairo has left the bedroom and has ventured downstairs.

Sling is out now.

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