Arlo Parks Collapsed in Sunbeams Transgressive
When bedroom pop singer-songwriter Arlo Parks released her first EP Super Sad Generation, she was cited as one to watch. With her debut album Collapsed in Sunbeams she stakes a claim as one of the voices of a generation as she forensically explores self-acceptance, mental health and rocky relationships. Accompanied by radio-friendly acoustic guitar and jazz chords, her signature breathy vocals are once again front and centre, but now her voice is louder – and her lyricism is more direct.
This is particularly noticeable in Caroline, as Parks chronicles the breakdown of a relationship from the outside, adeptly slipping into the minds of the girl and the boy and then back into her own voice. She manages to embellish her lyrics with memorable vignettes, still keeping her storytelling at the centre of each track (“Strawberry cheeks flushed with defeated rage / Then he spilled his coffee as he frantically explained”). Now and then she’ll catch the listener off-guard with her eye for precise, but unforced, detail: “He’s watching Twin Peaks on his ones” for example, from single Hurt.
Elsewhere, Portra 400 illustrates Parks’ maturity as an artist, as she references creating art out of life. But the track is held back by its stilted production, the slightly overused jazz touches and dusty drum break. Black Dog feels toothier, the scuffed beats and sparse synth capturing the emptiness of depression. Ultimately, though, it’s Parks’ poeticism that marks her out as someone special – and makes her meditations on Gen-Z adolescence worthy of your time.