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KPH Blog

A Portrait of Arlo Parks: Collapsed In Sunbeams

Updated: Mar 21, 2021

By Jordy Brown

Arlo Parks releases her freshman album, Collapsed In Sunbeams, and introduces the world to her powerful vulnerability through her confidently expressive prose. Parks is an up and coming artist who is known for her relaxed instrumental and strong poetic language, a coupling that only the intentional listener will experience. Arlo has been categorized as indie, bedroom pop, indie-folk but she transcends genres. The expressive 20-year-old singer-songwriter lives in London and has continuously grown support since her debut single “Cola” in 2018 and since then, has covered “Fake Plastic Trees” with Phoebe Bridgers in 2020 and ended up on playlists curated by Michelle Obama.

I discovered Arlo Parks in late 2019 with the song “Second Guessing” where she quietly strings together her words accompanied with a lo-fi like beat. After listening to her a few times I noticed her slow tempo upbeat melody didn’t match her lyrics, which hold weight and complexity far beyond her swayable paced track. Parks doesn’t hold back in her lyrics, describing herself as “completely unfiltered” in a BBC interview. The line “On the way back from therapy/Bleeding out on a velvet couch/They're kinda worried about me” from her 2019 single “Second Guessing” expresses that. It’s easy to hear her honesty in her amplified whispered tone. Even though Collapsed In Sunbeams has a diverse sound, changing as the album progresses, her original bedroom recorded sound still pervades her music.

Collapsed In Sunbeams, released on January 29th of this year, starts with a poem of the same name, priming the listener for the album, to listen closely and “[make] peace with our own distortions.” Arlo quickly becomes a close friend to the listener, ending her fifty-second acoustic poem with the line, “You shouldn't be afraid to cry in front of me.” The twelve-track album showcases her poetic prose through a variety of ways, describing a bus stop argument with an angry couple in “Caroline”, telling a past lover to “Just Go”, and recounting feelings of helplessness in helping her friend with depression in “Black Dog.”

The album is accompanied by a handful of music videos, one more cinematically curated than the next, with dark hues of blue, green, and underexposed shots to emphasize emotion. It’s no surprise that her words are coupled with candid shots in swimming pools and climbing on top of parked vans. The cinematography is unparalleled and the colors are immaculate.

Arlo Parks has graced charts on Spotify like “All New Indie”, “POLLEN”, and reaches a relatively large audience for an Indie artist with over 3.5 million monthly listeners on Spotify alone. Collapsed In Sunbeams is just the beginning for Parks, a thoughtful and poignant one, and her future is bright. She’s here for the long haul and her music attracts a large audience beyond the traditional Indie scene. Collapsed In Sunbeams is a fresh album to start the new year and having Arlo Parks as an artist pioneering authentic portrayal of difficult emotions to a young audience is inspiring. Parks is leading the way in reaching out to her audience about hardship, and as she said to NPR “It’s what I was living through and what the people around me were living as well.” Stream Collapsed In Sunbeams by Arlo Parks wherever you listen to music now.



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