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Clairo, 'Blouse'

Clairo returns to nimble, self-recorded acoustics on her latest single, "Blouse." This time around, there's more self possession and intent. Through notes on emotionally distant encounters, she describes how it feels to hold one's tongue, when words aren't enough to be understood. "If touch could make them hear, then touch me now," she sings. The song's pensive nostalgia stems from a familiar chord progression — think Big Star's "Thirteen" or Elliott Smith's "Say Yes." While far from being the song's centerpiece, it rouses the same warmth and care of those classics. Stripping down much of the pop and R&B stylings of her previous work, "Blouse" is a sonic reset in anticipation of Clairo's forthcoming album, Sling. It thrusts storytelling forward while revealing a much more grounded, mature side of the songwriter. Singing past anxious observations, "Blouse" never oversteps and remains composed.

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Alex Ramos is an artist, writer and editor who specializes in media journalism and music criticism. They're a recent graduate of California College of the Arts, where they were trained in filmmaking and animation. Outside of their work at NPR, Ramos is editor-in-chief at Sunstroke Magazine, an independent publication that centers Generation Z, culture and activism.