Bite-sized Album Review #22: Arlo Parks’s ‘Collapsed in Sunbeams’

It’s been a minute since I’ve done one of these! I’ve just started getting back into my album-listening groove (though I’ve been interrupted a few times for ~mental health-related reasons~ ), and there are some short projects that I’ve been listening to that are too tiny to talk about in a First Listen but perfect for this. So hopefully that means I’ll get back on top of these, and to start these off for the year, let’s talk a bit about Arlo Parks. I haven’t listened to a bunch of her music (read: I’ve only listened to one song LOL), but I liked what I heard. “Cola” was my walk-to-work song for a while, after it popped up on one of the two playlists that Spotify curates for me, so I’ve listened to it a LOT. And that’s saying something because I don’t typically like hearing British accents in music. I don’t know why lol – they just bother me! I loveee the bass line and drums on “Cola,” and the hook is PERFECTION. It’s simple but well put together. And I’d say the same thing about Collapsed in Sunbeams (2021), Arlo’s debut album. 

Thematic Cohesion

This album is clearly one that talks through the challenges of being a young adult, and Arlo does a pretty good job of offering her thoughts and experiences on a variety of subjects, including mental health, love, etc. I will say that the project gets a little repetitive; a lot of it feels like depression, love, rinse, repeat. Over and over again for 39 minutes. And In some ways, it mirrors the bouncing around from one emotional extreme to the next that happens a lot in your early 20s, but on the other hand, it made it a little more difficult to tell when one song was ending and another was beginning.

Also, I just looked up how old she was, and I’m currently having an existential crisis about her being born in 2000.

Sonic Cohesion

Collapsed doesn’t stray far from typical bedroom pop, indie-folk sounds. The guitars and drums sound exactly like what I’d expect from a project like this. Very golden hour-esque and dreamy and made me feel like I was in an early 2010s teen movie a la The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Arlo has a great voice, and the instrumentation across the album was top-notch. It did, again, get a little repetitive, so I preferred songs like “Bluish” and “Portra 400” that sounded a little bit more experimental. I absolutely LOVED how this project started, though. She gave us a little spoken-word piece, and I think it encapsulated the theme and feel of the project very well. 

Vibe Check

I was in the middle of a #depressiveepisode when I started listening to this project lol. I woke up last Monday feeling ~bad~, so I took my cat outside to romp around the backyard while the sun came up, and I listening to Collapsed. I didn’t know beforehand what this album was going to be about, so when she hit us with the “oh, wouldn’t it be lovely to feel something for once?” at the beginning of “Hurt” I almost started crying LOL. I felt so SEEN, and it really added to the drama of the moment. 

Replay Value

Oh, replay value. The great equalizer. It’s been almost two weeks, and I haven’t had the urge to go back and listen to anything from this project. It was really good, but it didn’t stick with me enough to make it to my Spotify library, despite my almost-tears during “Hurt.” Because it felt so repetitive to me, it was a difficult project for me to remember a lot of the specifics of without going through and listening to a few seconds of each track again. But this is project is the perfect example of why the replay value rating exists because as much as I liked this project, my yearning to listen to an album all the time (or not) really makes a difference.

3 songs i dig…

“Bluish” “Portra 400” and “Hope”

Featured Image via i-D

Overall Album Rating

(listen to Collapsed in Sunbeams on spotify, by clicking on the image below)

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