If you’re a regular reader of Record Weekly, you might’ve noticed me mentioning before how I could kick myself for not seeing Arlo Parks supporting Loyle Carner. And if ever there was testament to that regret being worthwhile, it’s her debut album, ‘Collapsed In Sunbeams’. So it’s only right that we review this treasure trove from Arlo Parks.
Setting the scene with spoken-word verses, the album-titled opener ‘Collapsed In Sunbeams’ then trickles down into the upbeat beauty that is ‘Hurt’. It also kickstarts proceedings as a diarised, musical journey, and one that provides glimmers of positivity in a strange and uncertain time. This funk-meets-soul tune was a big single at the time of its release, but it’s still a pleasure to revisit while playing through the record.
For its melancholy magnificence and radiating power, I’d still pick ‘Eugene’ out of the line-up as the major hit. It’s as raw, humble and honest as it gets, and showcases that Parks’ deft songwriting ability is just as strong as her angelic, silky-soft vocals. It also reminds me of times worth reminiscing about, so it has added value there.
Familiar favourites also come packaged up in the forms of ‘Black Dog’ and ‘Green Eyes’; one is soft and mellow, the other has a groovy, must-toe-tap-to-it vibe. In fact, that sort of mixture is typical of this triumphant record — you get all the ups and downs of the emotive melodies, and that’s what makes this such an important collection of tracks to hear. It’s a massive debut!
Peppering it with jazz notes, the piano keys that underpin ‘Hope’ nod to recalling nights spent in chic, darkened bars sipping whisky and cocktails. The lyrics speak of us ‘not [being] alone’ too, which capture the essence of some haunting lockdown feelings that many have experienced on and off. There’s a similar dance-around-the-room essence to ‘Just Go’ as well, if that kind of sound is what you’re on the hunt for.
As full of belters ‘Collapsed In Sunbeams’ is, I challenge you to find a song more fun than ‘Too Good’. This deliriously delightful offering is a dash of Lily Allen, a smidge of Corinne Bailey Rae and a spoonful of Lianne La Havas, so why wouldn’t you want to dance around the room to it? It’s evidence of how Parks has levelled up since her very first singles — which, I should add, are still incredible. She’s simply honed her sound and craft, and it’s paying dividends. Give this a spin pronto.
If you only download one track, let it be: ‘Eugene’