So everyone is talking about the debut of London-born singer Arlo Parks these days. I have to admit that I didn’t really become interested in her at first because the press release states that Billie Eilish is a fan. So what? Seriously, why is there such a hype about Billie Eilish? I just don’t get it. There must be something I have missed or can’t hear or feel or whatever.
But anyway, Arlo’s debut is pretty amazing I think. She sometimes reminds me of a female version of Michael Kiwanuka, her raw and intense vocals shining on most of the tracks, sometimes with that irresistible London accent like on “Hurt”. Her songs are “confessional and tender”, according to her website and she “spent most of school feeling like that black kid who couldn’t dance for shit, listening to too much emo music and crushing on some girl in her Spanish class.” On alternative-soul like little poems like “Hope”, she manages to put just as much optimism in her singing as needed.
Those alternative indie soul-meets-pop stance suits her exceptionally well and I think if there is just one artist best portraying this genre and generation, it has to be Arlo. Unlike that other new singer that a lot of folks are craving about, Celeste, whose voice seems to crack and tumble so often that you think it’s a gimmick and an act of clownery, Arlo’s instrument remains crystal clear, honest, earnest, and amazingly fluffy on the mental health-themed “Black Dog”, one of the highlights of the set (no wonder that this is Gina’s favorite song too). Arlo’s real name if you need that info is Anaïs Oluwatoyin Estelle Marinho (a much nicer name I think) and she relied on her diary for some of the stories on her album.
I like the bass and guitar thumping of “Too Good”, a slightly jazzy workout produced by Paul Epworth. Most of the production work and instrumentation is subdued and low-key, partly produced by Gianluca Buccellati, expertly executed for little pop gems like the marvelous “Just Go”. There is an overall soothing quality to her music, sometimes leaning toward Sade, like on the floating “Eugene” or the slightly upbeat “Bluish”. “Making rainbows out of something painful”, she sings on the album closer “Portra 400”.
“Collapsed In Sunbeams” is available in 180 g gold vinyl and also in deep red vinyl editions. Let’s see if the projected tour dates will happen in the spring. At least there is hope at the end of the rainbow now.