Clairo’s music is lackadaisical and charming, full of candid observations that feel plucked from a friend’s iPhone notes. Her viral hit “Pretty Girl” spread so quickly not because it is particularly obscure or bizarre, but because, accompanied by a lo-fi video filmed on her computer’s webcam, its sentiments are familiar to any woman who has sacrificed part of herself for a love interest. Since that song’s success, Clairo has released an EP, as well as a handful of hazy pop singles that reference the mundane—Pepto Bismol, accidentally swallowed gum, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos—while articulating the frustrations and euphoria of blossoming romance.
“Bags,” Clairo’s strongest song to date, ups the ante significantly. She delivers oblique, stream-of-consciousness lyricism about a deteriorating relationship, singing in a characteristic deadpan that seems to contradict the emotional weight of lines like, “Pardon my emotions, I should probably keep it all to myself,” and, “Can you see me using everything to hold back?” But the instrumentals tell a different story; unlike the gauzy, synth-heavy wash that usually cocoons her vocals, “Bags” is sonic splatter paint. Clairo and Rostam’s production is a mishmash of choppy helicopter synth, chugging electric guitar, Danielle Haim’s drums, and keys that sound as if they’re being banged by a kindergartener. Though it sounds busy on paper, it’s executed beautifully, each twinkling element bringing new vibrancy to the mix. With the dewy turbulence of a monsoon rain, “Bags” marks a new kind of Clairo energy.