Release Date: Jan 29, 2021
Record label: Transgressive
On her full-length debut, Parks carries a unique tenderness. Each track on Collapsed In Sunbeams feels perfectly crafted and formed, built to entice whilst still subtly carrying the album's general themes. To quote the closing track "Portra 400" Parks debut album is "making rainbows out of something painful." Becoming apparent quickly is the fact the brilliance of it all lies in the mundanity of her lyricism - her poetic depictions of everyday scenarios make her songs easily relatable.
London singer/songwriter Arlo Parks has spent the last years of her adolescence carving out a place within the world of bedroom pop, chronicling the highs and lows of young love with impressive heart. At only 20, and with a massive amount of attention behind her, Parks is faced with the daunting task of translating those first steps into a single cohesive project. Fortunately, with Collapsed In Sunbeams she delivers an album of touching vignettes and empathetic grace, uplifting the record beyond its intimate presentation for a powerfully affecting debut.
In a year that has been full of unpleasant twists and turns, there is a reassuring pleasure to be taken from watching an artist embark on a career that prioritises a sense of inner calm. A thoughtful and introspective voice for her generation, Arlo Parks has risen to prominence not by courting controversies or being especially polarising, but by proffering a steady stream of honest songs and self-care open letters that feel strangely grounding in their specificity. She's an easy star-next-door to root for, and on her debut record, she makes light work of demonstrating exactly why the nation has become so invested in her art.
Arlo Parks is the nom de plume of Anaïs Oluwatoyin Estelle Marinho, an artist and poet from Hammersmith, who was longlisted as a breakthrough artist in the BBC Sound Of 2020 after uploading demos to BBC Introducing and garnering the attention of Radio 1 DJ Jess Izatt. Her debut single Cola landed in November 2018, followed by the EP Super Sad Generation, which was the perfect marriage of accomplished creative writing and low-key hip hop. Her second EP Sophie showcased a more neo soul sound with instantly engaging narratives.
After being crowned BBC's Sound of 2020, Arlo Parks has returned with her debut album proving she can be folk's finest star in any year. 'Collapsed In Sunbeams' shows steady growth from Arlo's previous EP's, whilst still remaining authentic to her sound. Melodically, the album feels as though it may have been better suited to a summer or springtime release but the tracks offer a homely, warm feeling to guide us through the winter.
One of the greatest joys of listening to Arlo Parks' long-anticipated debut, Collapsed in Sunbeams, is how she finds meaning in the small moments. Whatever the mood strikes, Parks uplifts with her detailed observations—an ability she first hinted at with the efficient bedroom pop of her two EPs Super Sad Generation and Sophie. Sunbeams sounds larger and brighter by comparison, as she seamlessly declaims her thoughts alongside hip-hop beats and soulful touches.
On her long-awaited debut album, Collapsed in Sunbeams, British phenom Arlo Parks has delivered an essential reprieve from what has been a devastatingly drab past few months without diving too deep into discussions about the pandemic and social unrest. This is not to say Collapsed in Sunbeams is here to heal wounds. No, the weight of the world should never fall on a single person.
On the heels of the viral success of a handful of early songs, London singer/songwriter and poet Arlo Parks makes her full-length debut with Collapsed in Sunbeams, a set that draws on episodes from adolescence. Sharing an empathic, personal approach that doesn't shy away from matters of heart or mental health issues, some of those songs -- "Eugene," "Cola," and "Black Dog," for instance -- are included on the 12-track album. Another characteristic that Parks' works have in common is an appealing blend of adult-alternative R&B, bedroom pop, and a borderline sophisti-pop that lands her sound in the general vicinity of, say, Sade or Jamila Woods without infringing on their space.
I t's hard to know how to feel about the state of Arlo Parks' career. The obvious response is to be hugely impressed: here she is, at 20 years old, surfing a wave of critical acclaim, the release of her debut album heralded by vast billboards around London and what's effectively her own TV special, courtesy of Amazon. Not bad for someone who was hopefully uploading their demos to the BBC's Introducing site a couple of years ago.
The Lowdown: Arlo Parks started making music only a couple of years ago, but her hand in Collapsed in Sunbeams is guided by a masterful delicacy that speaks to a careful early attention to her craft. The poet and singer-songwriter is part Nigerian, Chadian, and French and grew up in West London, where she started making music in her bedroom as a teenager. Now, at 20 years old, she's put out an album brimming with human experience, featuring an array of poetic vignette songs that find calming, cavernous expression through neo-soul and jazz.