ALBUM REVIEW: Arlo Parks, Collapsed In Sunbeams
British singer, Arlo Parks has dropped her first studio album “Collapsed In Sunbeams.” She is fresh off of her feature on the “Track07 [Georgia Anne Muldrow Version” on “Unlocked 1.5” by Denzel Curry and Kenny Beats. On her debut album, Parks shows off her story telling chops with moments in her life that are very intimate as she brings them to life with great lo-fi production. This album has a solid Summer time kind of vibe too and it’s great if you want some easy listening music with a lot of substance. Parks has this lounge singer-like voice that is super smooth on every track of this project. This is definitely a “headphones on” album too. The delicate production makes it sound casual on the surface, however the lyrics are darker and paint great imagery throughout.
The introduction song, “Collapse In Senbeams” was a great way to start the album as she recites a poem with a calming guitar chord being played in the background. She invites us onto a journey with her as we go deeper into the album. “Hurt” had a nice humming part in the beginning over some jazzy percussion. Parks begins to sing with this monotone inflection that really works well with her lyrics about how she feels hurt and numb. However, the lack of inflection in her performance does make the song sound a bit flat. The next track “Too Good” is more upbeat and the production is more jazzy. The chorus on this song is amazing and pretty damn catchy. It is definitely Its own Summer vibe compared to most of the tracklist.
“Hope,” is a song that is about, well.. inspiring hope during these Covid times. The sentiment was actually kinda nice. The chorus reminds us all that “You’re not alone like you think you are / We all have scars, I know it’s hard / You’re not alone like you think you are.” The only criticism I have for this track is that I wished it had a bigger ending where it sounded like a “We Are The World,” but not lame. The song just seems to end silently.“Caroline” is another great song on this project. It’s a little short story about this couple arguing in public on Oxford St, and Parks is there to witness the end of their relationship from afar. Park’s delivery on this track fits in very well on this sad song about a man watching his whole relationship crumble in front of his eyes. The chorus sounds a bit haunting when Parks sings in the perspective of the man screaming to Caroline. The beat is pretty great with this track as well as it sounds like a song from the '90s.
“Black Dog” has a nice lo-fi beat on this track, but the true star of this song is Parks’ lyrics. She sings about her friend who is struggling with depression. Parks’ lyrics are so intimate as she explains the very specific actions she takes with her friend when they are in a depressive episode. It doesn't sound like she’s doing much, but just by getting someone who has depression to leave their room and take a walk to get some food, can help their mood. “Green Eyes,” is another great track on this album. The production is bumping and Parks’ has one of her best performances on this track. The song is about a failed relationship, however the failure wasn’t over an argument or anything fundamental with the relationship. Parks opens up about the discrimination she and her girlfriend at the time witnessed in their relationship. Her girlfriend’s dad on the song disowned his daughter on the song and it just breaks your heart. It’s kind of crazy that this is still the attitude of some people in 2021. The ending of the pre-chorus is especially sad when Parks says that she doesn’t blame the woman she was with for ending things.
“Just Go” has a really tropical vibe to it that would sound great cruising down the street with the windows down as Parks sings about her telling her toxic ex to f**k off. The beat is nice, but this song does kind of come off as boring. “Eugene” is a solid track on this album as well. The production has this great bass line, and the lyrics are kind of funny, just because of how jealous she gets. Parks is singing about being in love with an old friend of hers who is dating Eugene. Parks is so in love with her friend that anything Eugene does or says just sets her off, and she does not miss an opportunity to call him mean or a d**k.
The end of the album is a triumph with the closing track “Portra 400.” The first line of the song “Making rainbows out of something painful / Getting fried is how I’m dodging gravestones” is about trying to find the silver lining in these depressing moments in her life, and she tries to escape these depressive feelings through drug use. What a hell of a way to start the song. Parks also has another great vocal performance on this track. Plus the bass line on this track is really great. It’s sad, smooth and sounds like the ending of a movie where you can see the credits roll by. Overall, this album was a solid debut from Arlo Parks. She does a great job establishing her sound on this album by incorporating super sad topics with super chill production in the background. However, her singing does come off as a little flat and one dimensional where every song kind of sounds like the one from before. It was like her voice was being taken over by the rich production on this project. She has a very “Pollen” like style to her music with it being easy to listen to that you can put on in the background.