Arlo Parks - Collapsed In Sunbeams
Updated: Sep 10, 2021
Every now and then, an album comes along that you have to play over and over. When side one finishes, you immediately turn it over to side two. When that finishes, you flip it straight back and drop the needle once again. When you head out for a walk, you pop your headphones in and it’s the album you put on first.
These albums come with the risk you get sick of them - some are so good, you just don’t. Arlo Parks’ debut is one of these albums.
Hailing from London (but with a heritage that’s a mix of Nigerian, Chadian, and French), Parks has delivered on the promise of her early songs (her first single Cola clocked up 3 million plays on Spotify in its first year of release - it’s on over 18 million now).
Collapsed In Sunbeams is an astonishingly confident debut - its opener and title track is a relaxed spoken word piece. It could have been a pretentious and clumsy start, but it’s elegant and a scene setter.
The whole album takes sadness and finds something uplifting and positive. The album draws on pain and mental health challenges, over cool soul, jazz, RnB and indie chilled out tunes. And in her lyrics, she has a touch of the Lloyd Coles, name checking Sylvia Plath, Thom Yorke and Robert Smith, as well as her surroundings (she had me when she dropped Peckham Rye into Hope…).
Too Good, Hope and Just Go are perfect pop, irresistible earworms that just will not go away and you don’t want them too, so that’s good. Hurt with its comforting chorus, “I know you can’t let go of anything at the moment / Just know it would hurt so, won’t hurt so much forever.”, is my favourite - empathy for all of us stuck in lockdown and fighting our demons. Equally, Black Dog is relatable as it describes depression and the pain of a loved one watching on - “It's so cruel what your mind can do for no reason”.
The album is assured, stylish, introspective, but warm, engaging and opening. It’s like getting a hug when you are sad from someone who just gets it.