Sling by Clairo album review by Sam Boatright for Northern Transmissions

Fader Label/Republic Records

9.5

Clairo

Sling

There’s something disarmingly inviting to Clairo’s lyrics. They’re the slightly ajar door that beckons you into a cozy parlour. They’re the amiable Host offering to hang up your jacket, the affirming pat on the back that “yes, you’ve made it to the right place.”

The opening lines of “Bambi,” the opening track on Clairo’s bucolic, handwoven sophomore effort, Sling, depict this best: “I’m stepping inside/ A universe designed against my own beliefs.” You may not entirely know what the solacing Host means, yet you agree. You sit down in an open chair. You decide to let your guard down; and, you listen.

Before the snow has fully melted from your boots, you find yourself nodding and jovially interrupting in agreement; you’re too excited to tell them that, “yes, I’ve felt that same way!” Sling teems with precise moments you’ve never been able to describe, but you’re just elated that someone can ground these feelings that have always seemed esoteric and abstract.

“I can’t fuck it up/ If it’s not there at all,” the Host astutely recognizes. You didn’t realize that’s exactly how you’ve been handling your problems for the past year. You’re bewildered and you appreciate the calming effect of an engaging friend that you’ve missed for months.

It’s now late into the evening. Most of the guests have dispersed but you’re enraptured in easy conversation with the Host. The second pot of coffee is making its rounds and you look up to notice the woolen tapestries draped against the wood-panelled walls. They seem abiding and ageless, that they’ve existed before those walls were built and will survive long past the structural integrity of the house.

Whereas Clairo’s lyrics parallel an empathetic Host, her instrumental performances are spun like heirloom weavings that decorate this snug gathering. They’ve always been there, so intentional and matchless in their tone that you can’t imagine other notes filling their spots. That is to say, the instrumentation on Sling is so absolute and fitting, it sounds like it’s always existed, that it couldn’t have been written, but found: ordained.

The pastoral timbres on Sling represent a shift from the previous Immunity. The quiet confidence of decadent arrangements, boldly-picked basslines and leaning pianos replace the uncertainty of bedroom-strummed guitars and wistful harmonies. There’s a distinct vision and purpose behind Clairo’s newest release, one that gladly recalls the breezy, powerful songwriting of Karen Carpenter or Carole King, but percolates through the artfully curated filter of a poetic Gen Z’er in Clairo.

Jack Antonoff’s thoughtful production does what it’s supposed to do: it gives Clairo a welcome canvas to paint her Bob Ross-esque landscapes upon, idyllic nature scenes that take the listener to the upstate New York studio where they recorded Sling.

I know this review sounds somewhat ostentatious, but you’re on your fourth cup of coffee now and these things make sense to you. You are now fully engulfed in the warming magic of the room: of its ubiquitous decor; of the uncanny Host and her deific wisdom so palatably offered to you. You know you should be getting home, but you lay your head back, allowing yourself one more round of tales and 44 minutes and 33 seconds of inspiring assurance.

Order Sling by Clairo HERE