Culture Trips

Arlo Parks: Collapsed in Sunbeams review – silky and sublime | Pop and rock

Since her emergence as a teenager, west London singer-songwriter and poet Arlo Parks’s work has had plenty of acclaim. Rightly so: her music offers cerebral, softly candid musings, swimming with a gentle poeticism. In interviews, the 20-year-old speaks often about her love of Allen Ginsberg et al, as well as the breadth of music that inspires her, from emo to King Krule to Portishead. Collapsed in Sunbeams is her debut full-length release, and feels like the organic culmination of these influences.

Opening with soothing spoken word (“Stretched out open to beauty, however brief or violent”), it’s a plaintive but assured start from which the record drifts smoothly from track to track, contemplating quotidian youth, depression, loneliness and relationships with visceral, beautiful naturalism. While the subject matter can be raw and difficult, Parks tackles it with an impressive warmth. Standouts include the lo-fi, summery Green Eyes, the twinkle of near-disco on Just Go, the shuffling, playful beat of Bluish, and the murky glow of For Violet.

With its silky delicacy, percussion that plays with everything from trip-hop to neosoul, and that deft voice gliding through sublime imagery, this is a quietly enriching and powerful first album.

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