One of the most beautiful things to experience with music is that realization that something you're listening to is going to be sticking with you for a long time. Maybe you land on an album that follows you for the next few days, having songs that you find yourself returning to on occasion. Other times its an album that you immediately recognize will undoubtedly be with you for the rest of the year and likely beyond. Collapsed In Sunbeams falls quickly into the category of a new long-term friend, as Arlo Parks' debut record is the kind that you will miss as soon as it's over.
The London-based singer has been releasing material steadily over the last two years, beginning with her well-received single Cola as well as two EP's, in a slow burn to her debut album Collapsed In Sunbeams. It is apparent that Marinho has been cultivating material over that stretch of time in an effort to craft a cohesive, intimate, and heartfelt initial big statement. That statement is as large as one could have asked for.
The twelve-track debut is absolutely drenched in a laid-back, bedroom pop style that benefits from the textured production layered throughout each song. Marinho navigates complex emotions with sincerity across the album, with songs ranging from uplifting celebrations of life to a deep despondency that still leaves a light at the end of a tunnel, making for a profoundly reflective experience.
Beginning with a spoken-word excerpt that immediately sets the poetic tone of the record, Marinho spends the first three songs in glossy indie-pop territory that brightens the room immediately like a transportation to a warm summer. Hurt reminds the listener that the pain you experience won't be bad forever; Hope uplifts by stating that even when it's hard, you aren't alone. The sentiments may seem like the average optimistic affair, but Marinho's smooth vocals over the diverse blend of R&B, jazz, pop, and indie rock makes even the most average moments glistening.
Once Caroline begins the depth of the record begins to unravel, dictating personal experiences of seeing a couple fighting at a bus stop. Black Dog, one of the singles off the record, bleeds openly with pain but feels relatable and confessional. The trip-hop inspired For Violet exudes darkness but, as is experienced throughout the record, Marinho never seems to lose herself in those bleaker moments.
The final three tracks return back to the brighter end, with both Eugene and Bluish delivering on the beauty pop music can bring and Portra 400 serving as a perfect encapsulation of the record with one final moment in the light of the sun. The closing song is a phenomenal end to the record, leaving you satisfied with the full spectrum of experiences you've felt in the forty minute span of the album.
With a handful of songs I would regret not returning to throughout the year, with Black Dog feeling like a gorgeous winter tone and a great deal of the record finding a perfect return for the summer, Collapsed In Sunbeams offers a great deal that won't stop giving after its conclusion. An early contender for one of the best debut records of the year, and with any luck a breakout release for the young artist, Arlo Parks enters into a musical climate that is constantly hungry for her style of music and should satisfy all listeners in some capacity.
Favorite track: Black Dog