By: Norma Sorto, Contributing Writer
Views expressed in opinion columns are the author’s own.
Arlo Parks, a 20-year-old British singer and songwriter released her debut studio album “Collapsed in Sunbeams,” Jan. 29.
The album consists of 12 tracks that showcase her artistic growth and soulful voice. Parks also released a deluxe album with eight additional tracks. Prior to the album dropping, she released several music videos from her debut album including “Black Dog” and “Eugene.”
The rising young artist was born in Paris as Anais Oluwatoyin Estelle Marinho. Her father is Nigerian and her mother is Chadian and French. While Parks was born in Paris, she was mainly raised in London. Throughout her teenage years, she started writing poetry and then constructing songs and musical beats.
In 2018, Parks released her first single, “Cola,” an emotional song about heartbreak and being nonchalant about her past lover. The song “Cola” reappears in her first EP, “Super Sad Generation,” released in 2019. The EP resonates with teenagers who are merely trying to find comfort.
Artists like Radiohead to Portishead and Sufjan Stevens to Solange positively inspired Parks’ music. While she has her musical inspiration, Parks found the voice that sets her apart from other artists. Her lyrics express her raw emotions about being a young adult.
Her music can be classified into many sub-genres like bedroom pop, R&B, indie folk, and neo-soul. It is no surprise that Radiohead is her favorite artist as she released a cover of one of their well-known songs, “Creep.” Parks enables her ability to sing with real emotions throughout the song.
After she released her single “Cola,” Parks signed with Transgressive Records, an independent label based in London. She found her way into gaining recognition in the music industry by collaborating with artists like Glass Animals, MICHELLE and Phoebe Bridgers. Now she is making her way with “Collapsed in Sunbeams.”
The album “Collaseped in Sunbeams” is both unique and gratifying. Parks is bringing something new to the table, and it is pleasing to see her explore a different aesthetic and genre that isn’t so mainstream. What makes Parks’ songs so intriguing is that she sings about her identity and personal experiences. The song “Eugene” is about an unrequited love for a best friend who’s dating a man named Eugene. With the song’s relatable lyrics and melancholy instrumental, you can sense the feeling of jealousy and confusion.
“Hey, I know I’ve been a little bit off, and that’s my mistake/ I kind of fell half in love, and you’re to blame,” the lyrics read.
In the song “Black Dog,” Park sings about her best friend struggling with depression. The raw emotion that Parks depicts is seen in the lyrics as she tries to understand what her friend is going through. The song gives those struggling a sense of reflection that it is important to seek help despite mental health stigma.
“I would do anything to get you out your room/Just take your medicine and eat some food,” the lyrics read.
After listening to the entire album, I could see how Parks’ musical inspiration has influenced her overall sound and voice. Oddly enough, “Collapsed in Sunbeams” reminds me of Radiohead’s album “The Bends,” which came out in 1995. Both albums have a similar style in terms of instrumentation and somber lyrics. I like how Parks can find inspiration from well-known artists and corporate her style in her music.
However, the only thing I would keep in mind is that each song tends to repeat the same melody. Perhaps, repeating the same melodies is Parks’ distinct style. I just wish there was more experimentation in the album production. The album is lacking in creating that awe factor that dives deep into Parks’ raw emotions.
Overall, “Collapse in Sunbeams” is an album worth listening to. I like how Parks incorporates imagery and analogy into her music. She is paving the path for young creatives who are merely creating art to make an impact. I am excited to see what she has in store for future releases.