mon 01/03/2021

Album: Arlo Parks - Collapsed in Sunbeams | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Arlo Parks - Collapsed in Sunbeams

Album: Arlo Parks - Collapsed in Sunbeams

Anticipated debut is a persuasive, sweet-natured, poetic listen

Poised with peach, pomegranate and crystals, ready for the fray

“Hope”, from the debut album by 20 year old London singer-songwriter Arlo Parks, has a perfect chorus for these times. Blissed piano chords, lazy funk beats, lusciously upbeat synth dreaminess, and on top of it all, her sweet, airy voice offering support: “You’re not alone like you think you are.” It seems directed at those who quarantine isolation has swirled down into a dark place.

“Hope”, from the debut album by 20 year old London singer-songwriter Arlo Parks, has a perfect chorus for these times. Blissed piano chords, lazy funk beats, lusciously upbeat synth dreaminess, and on top of it all, her sweet, airy voice offering support: “You’re not alone like you think you are.” It seems directed at those who quarantine isolation has swirled down into a dark place. There is much on Collapsed in Sunbeams that easily, chattily offers similar solace.

Let’s be clear, it’s not a Covid-centric album, it’s a set of gently pensive sketched miniatures whose lyrics are a cut above the usual singer-songwriter bromides. “Charlie melts into his mattress, watching Twin Peaks on his ones/Then his fingers find a bottle, when he starts to miss his mum,” runs “Hurt” over soothing downtempo, breakbeat funk. Many of the songs are similar ruminations on numbness and loneliness infused with an astute musical mix of melancholy, longing and optimism.

Tonally, however, things eventually grow a bit samey. Every time I listen to Collapsed in Sunbeams I’m warmed and engaged at the start but then focus drifts off. It becomes a background mood rather than a song cycle. The quality of the songs is no less on the latter half of the album – closer “Portra 400” is as cuddly-but-spiky as anything else (“Spiralling in bathrooms, tile on cheek/Telling me the drugs will only make me weak/Don’t you think I know that?”) – but the whole eventually smudges into a zone of genial background trip hop listening.

For, yes, trip hop is what this is, redolent of the crafted catchiness of Morcheeba and Lana del Rey, but shinier, less stoned, with a fresh Millennial self-empowerment polish and added unforced poetry. The album opens with a minute-long spoken word piece, the title track, which has a twinkling ASMR feel. It’s a taster for the open-heartedness to come. Arlo Parks's debut sets her up nicely.

Below: Watch the video for "Hurt" by Arlo Parks

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