Clairo’s ‘Sling’ doesn’t flinch at tough topics

Clairos Sling doesnt flinch at tough topics

Nikolai Gentes, Staff

Rating: 3/5 

Acclaimed indie-pop artist Clairo returns with her latest record, “Sling,” a follow-up to her 2019 project, “Immunity.” “Sling” was released on July 16 and quickly made its mark in music’s landscape, garnering a positive response from both fans and critics alike. 

“Sling” is not an album to shy away from touchy subjects. Clairo has stated that many of the songs on the record are derived from her life experiences. It’s a personal album, to say the least, and relatable, but one does wonder whether or not it is any good. 

For the most part, it is.

One of “Sling’s” positive qualities is its direct, unapologetic lyrics. It manages to bluntly tackle heavy issues such as heartbreak, depression and misogyny, while rarely feeling too ham-fisted or clunky. Far too often, albums and artists try to address serious issues in their music and come across as disingenuous and awkward. “Sling” isn’t like that. 

By utilizing the experiences of its creator, it’s able to craft an authentically intimate setting. It passes on esotericism in favor of a more straightforward approach that fits its general aesthetics. 

It’s also easier to connect to, and the album as a whole does an admirable job of reaching out to its audience and helping them bind with the experience it’s offering. 

The catchiness of a lot of “Sling’s” tracks also make it memorable. The subtly upbeat, and almost jaunty, hooks on songs like “Bambi” and “Amoeba” are fantastic high points on the album, with the jazzy elements of the former creating one of the record’s most danceable moments. The thoughtful melodies on “Zinnias” and “Harbor” are also great.

This is hardly a project that goes in one ear and out the other. It sticks with you, and I can guarantee that, after listening to it, you’ll catch yourself humming its songs on more than one occasion.

However, the album sadly does fall victim to many of the tired cliches of indie pop with its light production, breathy vocals and generally smooth sound hindering it to an annoying degree. Clairo’s singing throughout the project is average, and she rarely travels outside of one, airy vocal range. You don’t need to be technically gifted in order to be a great vocalist, but Clairo’s commitment to a style of singing that’s been done to death by a litany of other artists becomes tedious. Jack Antonoff’s bare, soft production also contributes to “Sling” sounding sonically interchangeable with a number of other indie works. 

The album can also occasionally feel repetitive with some of its instrumental passages and vocalizations blending in with one another. This subtle monotony makes the aforementioned cliches feel more pronounced and glaring. It’s in these moments where the album feels the most dismissible. One can’t help but feel that “Sling” eventually runs out of unique ways to express itself.

“Sling’s” negatives shouldn’t distract you from the fact that it is a decent project. It’s a record whose biggest merits lay within its writing, catchiness and atmosphere. But I’m skeptical of the adoration many have for it and hope that on her next release, Clairo is able to hone the strengths of this record and come back with a fresher and more unique sound.