March AOTM: Arlo Parks – Collapsed In Sunbeams

Whilst most of us are waiting for 2021 to show a flicker of light, you could argue that music hasn’t let us down so far. After kicking of the year off with Bicep’s ‘Isles’ February has delivered another treat; ‘Collaped In Sunbeams’, the debuit Album from Arlo Parks. For transparency, I wasn’t too sure about this album or how to approach it. The cynic in me was slightly concerned about the hype. 

Much has already been written about the creation, but if you have missed the many articles here’s a top-line recap: Around a year ago Arlo Park embarked on writing her debut album as Covid hit. Instead of being whisked away to a glamorous recording studio in LA, New York or London Arlo and her writing partner hunkered down in a B&B in Hoxton and created much of this album as the world seemed to be falling apart. It seems that her focus could not be shaken and the results were fruitful.

As we all worked through 2020 we were treated with the first 5 tracks from the album; Eugine, Black Dog, Hurt, Green Eyes and Caroline.  Black Dog, a chillingly honest song about her friends depression landed on many (including our) Top Ten year end lists for tracks of the year. As David pointed out in our 2020 year end podcast, there was a lot of expectation and hype around her album. 

The album as a combined finished article is very approachable. From the spoken word intro into “Hurt’ Arlo quickly lets you into her world. Her honest lyrics are matched by her likeable vocals of the West London songstress. The pop sounding ‘Collapsed’, ‘Hope’ and ‘Caroline’ flow into each other and are pleasing on the ears whilst lyrically telling stories more in the vein of a poet than a pop star. She weaves stories into songs with ease, making you feel the album is closer to a conversation with a friend than a collection of songs. This is apparent as you move onto ‘Black Dog’, ‘Green Eyes’ and then ‘Just Go’ which feels like a summer jam on the outside and ever so familiar song about relationships to us all (at that age) when we think about our late teens and early 20’s. 

We often speak on this blog and our podcast about album pace. I’d argue this album has been mapped very well. Some reviews have questioned ‘Violet’, and have suggested it perhaps is one of the albums weaker songs. I think the opposite. The Portishead-esk track reminds us not to rest on our laurels and arguably is a nod to some of her less predictable influences such as Radiohead. After a quick break from the expected you’re quickly pulled into the well known ‘Eugene’. It reminds me of Lily Allen. Not just for the vocal presentation and similar West London accents but also ability to welcome you into the story that Arlo tells and Allen previously did on some of her work. This for me carries through to ‘Bluish’ and ‘Porta 400’. 

Like many debutant albums ‘Collapsed In Sunbeams’ oozes with vulnerability. It reminds me of so many conversations with friends at that time in my life. As a person in my 40’s I can relate to her as her songs remind me of so many things when I was a similar age to her. I think perhaps that’s the magic; her and the allowance into her world. 

It’s hard to read any article that doesn’t focus on the age of Arlo Parks which I struggle with. Many have arguably written their best work at this age; though perhaps this is the point. Is Arlo Parks going to be one of the greats? There is little doubt that poetic lyrics and welcoming vocals are ahead of many of her peers in a similar age group. 

The album is easy to listen to, and has been on constantly in our house. It flows nicely and doesn’t seem to offend any of our ears. I often catch my Hayley and the kids humming along. 

Any hype that this album has received is well earned in my opinion. Will she be one of the greats? I truly hope she can carry on the trajectory she has started on. But she has a lifetime of songs still to write and in the meantime this album has a fair bit of tread on it for me. There are many miles left in it before I’ll be needing the next model. 

2021 should be a good year for music

With all 2020 gave us, music was one of the positives. From artists we have always loved such as Caribou and Run the Jewels, to artists such as Sault and Phoebe Bridgers planting their flag for a constant spot at the table to fresh new sounds like Troy Kingy, Khruanbin and Arlo Parks. 

As we wrap up 2020 there have also been some unexpected surprises; Paul McCartney, Black Thought and most recently Parallel by Four Tet. 

With a positive bounce in everyones step looking ahead to 2021 there is not only optimism in the air for things finding some normality around the world but also for new music. The hope being that many of our favourite artist have spent the last 12 months creating new material for us. 


So far we know the following artists are ready to roll: Arlo Parks, Bicep, Darkside, Foo Fighters plus a Madlib & FourTet collaboration which all should be solid. 

Plus unconfirmed but expect there will be new albums from Kanye West, Adele, Julia Stone, The Staves, Travis Scott and A$AP Rocky to name a few. 

Will 2021 meet our expectations? 

What are you looking forward to?

2020 year end lists

Never has there been a year that we have looked forward to seeing the end of the year more than 2020. For all of the negatives one of the rare bright spots has been the music. As the world went through harrowing times, the artists of the world delivered some of the best albums and songs in recent memory.

We’re going to be talking through our collective top albums of the year on our December podcast. Ahead of that we thought we would share our personal top 10 albums and our favourite tracks of the year, which we’ve created a playlist for all to enjoy!

Nolan

Top 10 Albums

1. Sault – Untitled (Black Is)

2. Run The Jewels – RTJ4

3. Caribou – Suddenly

4, Marlowe – Marlowe 2

5. Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher

6. Royce 5’9 – the Allegory

7. Sa Roc – The Sharecropper’s Daughter

8. Romare – Home

9. Mac Miller – Circles

10. Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia

Favourite tracks of the year (in no particular order)

Royce 5’9 – Tricked

Aesop Rock – Drums On The Wheel

Phoebe Bridges – Garden Song

Sa Roc – deliverance

Troy Kingi – All Your Ships Have Sailed

Jayda G – Both Of Us

Disclosure – Tondo

Michael Mayer – Higher

Run The Jewels – Ooh La La

Marlowe – Otherworld

Guy

Top 10 Albums

1. Sault – Untitled [Black Is]

2. Caribou – Suddenly

3. Sault – Untitled [Rise]

4. Róisín Murphy – Róisín Machine

5. Run the Jewels – RTJ4

6. Kelly Lee Owens – Inner Song

7. Jessie Ware – What’s Your Pleasure

8. Doves – The Universal Want

9. Laura Marling – Song For Our Daughter

10. The Vision – The Vision

Favourite tracks of the year (in no particular order)

Yves Tumor – Gospel For A New Century

Khruangbin – Time (You and I)

SAULT – Don’t Shoot Guns Down

Róisín Murphy; Soulwax – Something More – Soulwax Remix

Holy Fuck; Alexis Taylor – Luxe

Caribou – Home

Mim Suleiman – Mingi

Katy J Pearson – Take Back The Radio

Doves – Prisoners

Run The Jewels – JU$T

Joey

Top 10 Albums

1. Sault – Untitled (Black Is)

2. Caribou – Suddenly

3. Run The Jewels – RTJ4

4. Laura Marling – Song for our Daughter

5. Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher

6. Kevin Morby – Sundowner

7. US Girls – Heavy Light

8. Mac Miller – Circles

9. J HUS – Big Conspiracy 

10. Sevdaliza – Shabrang

Favourite tracks of the year (in no particular order)

Run the Jewels – JU$T

Kevin Morby – Sundowner

Home – Caribou

Perfume Genius. – Your body changes everything

U.S. Girls – 4 American Dollars

Laura Marling – Held Down

Nilufer Yanya – Crash

La Vita Nuova –  Christine and the Queens

So We Don’t Forget – Khruangbin

Lamp Lady – Sevdaliza

David

Top 10 Albums

1. Sault – Untitled (Black Is)

2. Caribou – Suddenly

3. Run the Jewels – RTJ4

4. Waxahatchee – Saint Cloud

5. Roisin Murphy  – Machine

6. US Girls – Heavy Light

7. Loma  – Don’t Shy Away

8. Jessie Ware- What’s Your Pleasure?

9. Fleet Foxes – Shore

10. Songhoy Blues – Optimisme

Favourite tracks of the year (in no particular order)

Run The Jewels – JU$T (feat. Pharrell Williams & Zack de la Rocha)

Róisín Murphy – Something More – Extended Mix

Arlo Parks – Black Dog

The Weeknd – Blinding Lights

Waxahatchee – Fire

Anderson .Paak – Lockdown

Katy J Pearson – Take Back The Radio

Marlowe; L’Orange; Solemn Brigham – Future Power Sources

SAULT feat. Michael Kiwanuka – Bow

Sylvan Esso – Ferris Wheel