Arlo Parks’ ‘Collapsed in Sunbeams (Deluxe)’ delivers a call to serenity

by Andrew Szendrey

Arlo Parks’ ‘Collapsed in Sunbeams (Deluxe)’ delivers a call to serenity

Arlo Parks

Collapsed in Sunbeams (Deluxe)

Transgressive Records · January 29, 2021

Arlo Parks’ ‘Collapsed in Sunbeams (Deluxe)’ delivers a call to serenity

Arlo Parks’ premier album Collapsed in Sunbeams (Deluxe) delivers a call to serenity as compelling as the late-night stoned urge to make a grilled cheese. In the two-part deluxe release, she melts an hour of poetry and song into an empathetic moment of clarity. Serving up a healthy dose of romantic perspective, Arlo Parks captures the attention of an isolated audience craving a peek into a stranger’s life.

“We’re all learning to trust our bodies,

Making peace with our own distortions,

You shouldn’t be afraid to cry in front of me.”

– “Collapsed in Sunbeams”

Hailing from West London, 20-year-old Arlo Parks is a Black poet and singer-songwriter who is warming the hearts of soft-pop fiends all over the world. After her early demos caught the attention of Transgressive Records, Parks signed with them in a move followed by the release of her first single “Cola” in late 2018. She followed up on her breakout success in 2019 with EPs Super Sad Generation and Sophie, both warmly embraced throughout the UK.

2020 marked a turning point for Arlo Parks. She received the AIM One to Watch in Association with BBC Introducing Award, affirming her rise to prominence after only two years in the industry. Virtual platforms like the Youtube channel COLORS and NPR’s Tiny Desk (Home) series offered Parks an expanded audience despite a dearth of live shows. She caught the attention of Glass Animals shortly after the release of Dreamland in July 2020. They moved quickly to help solidify her newfound fame byremastering one of the album’s hit singles, “Tangerine,” with a featured solo from Parks.

“It’s so cruel what your mind can do for no reason.”

– “Black Dog”

In the first part of the deluxe release, Parks lets her voice ring through a celestial landscape, tying together six previously released singles with a poetic introduction and new tracks so textured they transform headphones into a warm pillow. What’s most astounding is the way each song nods to a slightly different genre of groove – ”Bluish” rests on a laid-back house beat reminiscent of Channel Tres, while “Black Dog” brings to mind lo-fi “beats to study to” playlists on YouTube. The murky loop under “For Violet” is almost threatening, but “Hope” feels like it’s holding a sunflower to your nose. Collapsed in Sunbeams is anything but monotonous – a subtle nod to her versatility.

“You promised you’d be there in the morning

And I only half-believed you

Because last time you said that

You almost weren’t.”

– “Black Dog Poem”

Parks devotes eight songs of the Deluxe release to a “lo-fi lounge” set taken from the YouTube series she began while in lockdown. The first three tracks offer acoustic mixes of her most reliable hits so far – “Cola,” “Hurt,” and “Black Dog” – followed by the sobering “Black Dog Poem.” The poem uses crispimagery to display the agony of seeing a loved one suffer. It captures the pain, confusion and fear of not knowing when it could be a loved one’s time to leave Earth. She dares to relive her pain through an emotion-driven reading, giving the listener a reason to call their loved ones.

The “lo-fi lounge” set continues with four covers of songs written by Clairo, Phoebe Bridgers, King Krule, and Frank Ocean. The final song of the Deluxe album, Parks’ rendition of “Ivy” by Frank Ocean, stands out as a bold undertaking pulled off with grace and humility. Parks leaves the song undeniably Ocean’s, but adds a head-encircling expansiveness that leaves a sweet taste on the tongue long after it melts away.

Given well-deserved space to explore her soul-shaking poetry and indica-bathed sound, Arlo Parks’ Collapsed in Sunbeams (Deluxe) successfully ties a bow on the first phase of the young artist’s career and charts a sturdy, creativity-driven path forward.