Album review: Arlo Parks – Collapsed In Sunbeams

The release of single ‘Cola’ back in 2018 saw Arlo Parks garner the support of tastemakers around the world. A favourite of Billie Eilish and Michelle Obama, it’s not hard to see why she has caught the attention of so many. Her songwriting is friendly, cool and affectionate; the perfect accompaniment to a rainy day indoors. ‘Collapsed In Sunbeams’ landed right on time.

Poetry runs through the entire album. The first song is a soothing spoken word, although admittedly the romanticism is lost on me, Parks’ gentle tone carries her lyrics. Drifting smoothly from track to track, contemplating relationships, loneliness and mental health, she counteracts sometimes raw and difficult subject matter with a becoming warmth.

The elements of jazz make ‘Black Dog’ an easy listen. Lyrics, “I’d lick the grief right off your lips / Sometimes it seems like you won’t survive this / I would do anything to get you out your room”, give the song an understandable melancholic feel. Parks’ tender vocals and confessional lyrical style bring power to the subject of depression, for which ‘Black Dog’ is a metaphor.

The 20-year-old Hammersmith native isn’t all dreamy keyboard melodies and atmospheric vinyl cracks. On ‘Just Go’ the hint of disco is welcomed. It breaks up the album nicely, where it could otherwise seem repetitive.

Parks doesn’t shy away from or gloss over queer love. Whether that be the challenges of dealing with homophobic parents or unrequited love, Parks discusses everything honestly. This is best shown in ‘Green Eyes’ where she shows empathy to a partner who feels shame around their sexuality, with lyrics,“Could not hold my hand in public / Felt their eyes judging / I could never blame you darling”.

‘Collapsed In Sunbeams’ was perhaps the most anticipated debut album of the year. In ‘Portra 400’ the lyrics, “I’m always making rainbows out of something painful”, sum up the album perfectly – sometimes cliché but overall a refreshing mix of poetry infused neo soul.

Written by: Vanessa Valentine

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