“Blouse,” the first offering from Claire Cottrill’s upcoming record, Sling, immediately sets itself apart from the indie alt-pop that defined her 2019 debut, Immunity. The song begins as if rubbing the sleep from its eyes after a long nap: a hushed acoustic guitar melody is soon joined by gentle orchestral flourishes courtesy of co-producer Jack Antonoff and low-key backing vocals from Lorde. Out of a few choice details (a kitchen table, folded napkins, an anorak), Clairo constructs a scene of pleasant domesticity. The womb-like warmth of the music makes the barb at the song’s center all the more destructive: “Why do I tell you how I feel/When you’re just looking down my blouse.”

The encounter provokes a sentiment too painful to speak out loud: “If touch could make them hear, then touch me now.” It’s a devastating prospect—wanting so badly to be genuinely validated that you contemplate compromising part of yourself. She considers laughing off the betrayal, but its sting buries itself in her heart. There’s no happy ending and no one is let off the hook; the sentiment repeats, growing increasingly blistering. “Blouse” is a quiet yet bold leap forward for Clairo, one that puts a spotlight on her skills as a songwriter with remarkable ease.

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