COLLAPSED IN SUNBEAMS - ARLO PARKS ALBUM REVIEW
Arlo Parks' hotly-anticipated debut album is finally here, and it certainly doesn't disappoint. At 20 years old, Parks has released Collapsed in Sunbeams which is a near-perfect representation of the world we're living in right now.
Collapsed in Sunbeams opens up with its title track, which features spoken word on top of an acoustic guitar track and atmospheric electro sounds. What really stands out with this track, as well as the rest of the album generally, is the beautiful tone that Arlo Parks has to not only her voice but the instrumentals she pairs them with.
There's a mix of sounds and genres throughout Collapsed in Sunbeams, which range from Jazz and Funk to modern indie R&B. Parks mixes these genres to create something of her own making.
Listening to Collapsed in Sunbeams, you could say it feels almost reminiscent of early Lily Allen. Not as forthright and controversial, but in the sense of modern problems being presented with London as a background with a heavy British accent vocalising them and an oxymoronic upbeat backtrack.
There are also comparisons that could be made with artists like Lianne La Havas, however, this is stretching things slightly: Arlo Parks is very much her own artist with her own sound that's a little bit different to anything else around at the moment.
Each track fades completely seamlessly into the next, and the album is so unbelievably consistent throughout that it's difficult to pick any particular favourite track: they're all equally as profound and comforting.
One of the stand out tracks on the album is 'Hurt'. 'Hurt' is wise beyond its years and discusses the incredibly heavy topic of alcoholism. Hurt showcases Parks's storytelling ability which is prevalent throughout the whole album. Parks brings the menial and makes it beautiful and heartbreaking with lyrics like 'Watching Twin Peaks on his ones/ Then his fingers find a bottle/ When he starts to miss his mum/ Wouldn't it be lovely to feel somethin' for once?'
This is another thing that's incredibly prominent throughout the album - focusing on incredibly relevant and difficult discussions, to a beat that has a nice groove to it, and vocals that sound like they could never tell you anything bad. Parks herself has opened up about her own mental health struggles, and you can see the thoughts and beliefs from these struggles that come through into her music. Parks mixes these heavy topics with riveting narratives, to create stories that you're hooked on.
You also get a small level of cynicism which is rampant throughout Parks' Gen Z counterparts. This can be clearly seen within 'Just Go', a track with a funky beat about, essentially, telling an ex to leave you alone. With lyrics such as 'As I watched you welling up / I knew you hadn't changed that much / why don't you change that much'/ Just Go certainly has an attitude that you might not expect, but is a welcome surprise.
Overall, Collapsed in Sunbeams is a real triumph. Every single song presents Parks wise beyond her years, but at the same time feels incredibly real and youthful, which means a perfect balance has been found. Distinctly modern stories and worries with a real glimpse into coming of age in the world we're in now.
It's an exceptional debut, and bearing in mind it's only the end of January, we probably already have a strong contender for the best debut of the year.