Thursday, August 22nd, 2019

Clairo – Sofia

We’re ready for a conversation…


[Video]
[6.80]

Katherine St Asaph: This song is so solid that not even being called a misogynist by fucking Rostam (but the culture’s not ready for that conversation) has ruined it for me.
[7]

Nellie Gayle: Maybe it’s because I’m still constantly thinking about/tweeting about Euphoria season 1, but this Clairo song feels like a very good summation of the teen queer romance depicted in the show. In Doreen St. Felix’s review of Euphoria for the New Yorker, she mentioned the girl/girl romance shown there epitomizes “the electric stirrings we felt as young girls, reading best-friend adventures that we so desperately wished would rise into romance.” If I was to cinematically portray Sofia and Claire’s affection for her, it would surely blossom from an intense high school friendship into one halve’s yearning for more. The tentativeness with which we approach queer relationships is marked by a fear that we lose more than a partner when romance fails: we risk the connection that underscores every other iteration of the relationship. Beneath romantic longing is a pivotal safeness, warm and familiar enough to risk pinning our romantic hopes to. Sofia feels like an ode to those hard-to-deny, more than a crush-es we find in our queer friendships, and the calculation of whether the risk is worth the reward. 
[8]

Alfred Soto: If “Sofia” occasionally settles for lethargy, the force of the drums punctuates and pins down Clairo’s admissions; I especially dug the line about loving her lover’s hair down. 
[7]

Kylo Nocom: Warm and fuzzy dance beats cut squarely into the heart of Clairo’s crushing, and every beautiful musical moment passes by like thoughts running through your head minutes before you’re kicked out of the school dance’s venue. Though a line as earth-shaking as “oh my God / I think I’m in love with you” could be highlighted a bit more, and the urgency of “Sofia” is a little nerve-wracking, the whole rush is the point. A beautifully layered vocal arrangement as the song climaxes is the nicest imaginable payoff, and it feels like any worry you’ve had has all but vanished as you finally get what you’ve been waiting for all along.
[6]

Alex Clifton: A happy little queer marriage between a fuzzy Strokes guitar and dreamy Belle & Sebastian vocal delivery–in other words, designed for me. It’s a sweet song that captures the feeling of being in your early 20s and losing your way in every aspect of your life but knowing that your feelings for someone else are crystal-clear. I’m not normally one for “bedroom pop” as it tends to be too hazy for my liking but it works for everything Clairo’s doing here.
[8]

Vikram Joseph: Sounding like you don’t have to try as a singer can be a double-edged sword. Clairo’s vocals usually sound like a gentle waterfall of honey, entirely smooth and effortless, bordering on non-committal. This works, sometimes – on album opener “Alewife” it creates a beautiful sense of distance and perspective to teenage emotional trauma, and it lends recent single “Bags” a sense of emotional equivocacy which suits it perfectly. I think it sells “Sofia” emotionally a little short, though, especially for a lyric about exploring your sexuality. It’s a charming, well-constructed song, with a reliable chord progression giving it a gentle momentum and multiple vocal melodies offering a sense of dynamism, and the production takes it in interesting directions (especially the guitar solo that sounds like it’s being played through wrecked speakers). It just feels a little too controlled, and leaves me wishing she would… cut to the feeling, I guess?
[7]

Oliver Maier: Clairo’s music, as with most that ends up on Spotify playlists called stuff like “Chill Indie”, often threatens to be so pleasant that it becomes tedious. “Sofia” mostly sticks the landing, though that admittedly has more to do with the backdrop — fuzzy guitars, cartwheeling synths, “Rostam drums“, all snapping in and out of focus — than Cottrill’s lacklustre melodies. Most interesting, overall, is the vocal splicing in the final stretch that deconstructs her repeated pleas into tongue-tied clouds of pure feeling, a trick that only works because it comes at the end of the song. It’s a shame that most of what comes beforehand feels a little half-baked.
[6]

Julian Axelrod: I’m not saying Clairo’s the bedroom pop Nav, but making a Rostam-helmed Strokes shuffle sound this boring is a crime on par with wasting a Metro Boomin beat pack.
[5]

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: There’s a strange distance to “Sofia.” Each instrument, from the dutifully chugging drum track to the kinetic rhythm guitar and the fuzzy lead and even Clairo’s vocal performance, sounds like it’s playing from a different room. The first time I heard the song, I thought something was wrong with my headphones– they’re breaking down anyways– but the truth of the matter is more satisfying. The distance Clairo cultivates on “Sofia” is an intentional one, a way of layering on ambiguity and uncertainty to a song already rich in the uncertainty of queer longing.
[8]

Josh Buck: 10 years ago, this would have been in a Zach Braff movie, and now it’ll play in the background of a progressive Netflix teen rom-com. I call that an upgrade.
[6]

Reader average: [7] (1 vote)

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2 Responses to “Clairo – Sofia”

  1. Compared to “Bags,” “Sofia” feels undercut and overlooked lyrically as a confession to a lover (“Tell you how I felt/ Sugar coated melting in your mouth” >> “Sofia know that you and I/ Shouldn’t feel like a crime.”) But what the song lacks in its prosaic words is compensated for in its ambience — the technicolor strobing and splicing for a Grey’s Anatomy “Dance It Out” session, spazzing around in your bedroom on a Sunday afternoon.
    [8]

  2. I never would’ve gleaned that it sounds like a Shins song in disguise without Josh’s tip, but now it’s all I can hear.

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