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Clairo sparkles on debut EP ‘diary 001’

| Friday, August 24, 2018

Diane Park

Claire Cottrill is a child of the internet.

Like many other artists her age, the 20-year-old Cottrill, who performs Saturday at Legends Nightclub, has an online following to thank for her quick rise to teenage stardom. Things kicked off for Cottrill, who goes by Clairo onstage, in late 2017 when the homemade music video for her single “Pretty Girl” went viral, amassing over 15 million views. The webcam-style video featured Cottrill in lazy-day clothes singing and dancing along to the track in her bedroom — an appropriate setting for her music, which was quickly lumped into the growing genre of bedroom pop.

As many freshly-minted adults often do, Cottrill left her hometown of Carlisle, Massachusetts, and began the journey of higher education at Syracuse University. However, unlike most young adults, Cottrill also signed a record deal with Fader Label and began work on her debut EP titled “diary 001,” which was released in late May of 2018. The succinct six-song EP perfectly captures Clairo as an artist. It features the bedroom pop style she has mastered and reveals a more mainstream pop sound that may be the sign of more to come.

The focus of Clairo’s debut EP is similar to what one would find in the diary of a teenager, with each song reflecting on young love and relationships. “Pretty Girl” is a skillfully-written ballad about the pressure to change in order to appease one’s romantic partner. “I could be a pretty girl / Shut up when you want me to,” sings Clairo over a simple, melodic beat that masks the track’s complex subject matter. The song ends with Clairo acknowledging the foolishness of changing herself for another and finding comfort in being single. “Pretty Girl” is Clairo’s biggest hit to date and it’s only appropriate that it’s featured on her debut EP — it captures her appeal as an artist able to create catchy yet intricate songs for people of any age.

“B.O.M.D.,” which stands for “boy of my dreams,” is a sappy love song on which Clairo gushes over her newfound romantic interest. Yet even at her most indulgent, Clairo understands the silliness of confessing her love so openly, adding “I shouldn’t tell you this / You’re the boy of my dreams.” The track’s glitchy pop production is handled by British electronic artist Danny L. Harle and helps Clairo break free from the lo-fi bedroom pop genre she inhabited before releasing “diary 001.”  

“4EVER” is the standout track from the EP and displays Clairo’s ability to reach beyond basic bedroom pop and dismiss those who label her as one-dimensional. Shimmering synths, a deep bassline and rapid hi-hats create an addictive pop melody that sharply differs from the simplicity of “Pretty Girl.” In her signature hushed voice Clairo delivers a catchy chorus questioning the permanence of her relationship and drags out the last syllable of “count on” until it becomes almost impossible to not sing along.

The only downside to “diary 001” is its length. The six track EP acts more as an artistic portfolio rather than a complete and whole project, which is what one might expect from an album. “diary 001” does an excellent job as an EP though. Tracks like “Pretty Girl” and “How – demo” demonstrate Clairo’s poetic and thoughtful writing. “B.O.M.D.” and “4EVER” present Clairo trending away from the simplistic lo-fi pop genre and embracing a more well-rounded style. “diary 001” gives the outline of Clairo as an artist and now we must wait for her to fill in the rest.

But before she can finish a debut album, Clairo has to finish sophomore year. 

Clairo performs at Legends Nightclub at 9 p.m. Saturday. The event is free with a Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s or Holy Cross student I.D.

Artist: Clairo

EP: diary 001

Label: Fader Label

Favorite Tracks: “4EVER” “Pretty Girl” “B.O.M.D.”

If You Like: boy pablo, Cuco, Sylvan Esso

Shamrocks: 4/5

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About Ryan Israel

Ryan is the Former Scene Editor (2020-2021). He is currently washed up. Follow Ryan on Twitter @ryizzy.

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