fri 08/12/2023

Album: Arlo Parks - My Soft Machine | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Arlo Parks - My Soft Machine

Album: Arlo Parks - My Soft Machine

The Mercury Prize-winning songwriter bares her softer side

Arlo Parks: 'This feeling of lessening and cleansing continues'

On a recent podcast, poet and producer Arlo Parks admitted, “Music is definitely a place where I put the softest part of myself and push it out into the ocean.” This shouldn’t come as a surprise if you spent time with her Mercury prize-winning debut Collapsed in Sunbeams. The record quite literally cast light during the depths of another lockdown here in the UK back in early 2021.

But along with the awards, the release also bestowed hefty titles onto the British songwriter with NME dubbing her “the voice of Gen Z”. Parks was thrust into an exhaustive touring schedule going from supporting Harry Styles in Dublin to a solo set at Glastonbury Festival. She then rushed to open for Billie Eilish at the O2 arena, only to drive back to Worthy Farm to play the Pyramid stage with Lorde and Clairo the following day. She reached breaking point a few months later. Her social media post shared that she would be cancelling a string of shows as her mental health had “deteriorated to a debilitating place.”

But the response from fans, and fellow musicians alike, was far from outraged. Indie singers Clairo and Maggie Rogers both expressed their support for the decision. And it’s this period that her sophomore release, My Soft Machine, preserves from the distorted guitars that slice through ‘Devotion’ capturing a torrent of live shows to eating cheese with the person she loves in opener "Weightless". (The singer moved to California in May last year where her partner, blue-haired punk rapper Ashnikko is also based).

This feeling of lessening and cleansing continues in the former single "Impurities" as Parks soothes. “I radiate like a star / when you embrace all my impurities.” The loose, dare I say it, lounge-like quality of songs continues with ‘Pegasus’ teaming up with pal (and one-half of boygenius brilliance) Phoebe Bridgers who lends a seamless hand on harmony duties. Ironically, it’s one of the first records that Parks penned during that hazy period between releasing the debut and recording the next that really cements her sound though. Closer "Room (red wings)" is tender and intimate and even throws a Woolfe/Marie Antoinette simile into the mix. It’s Peak Parks and what a joy that is to have her back.

It’s Peak Parks and what a joy that is to have her back

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Average: 3 (1 vote)

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