Album Review

Arlo Parks - My Soft Machine

Fully representing the multifaceted complexities of the world outside.

Arlo Parks - My Soft Machine

Arlo Parks has left the bedroom. Her Mercury Prize-winning debut ‘Collapsed In Sunbeams’ punctuated a rapid rise to fame, with the likes of anxiety-filled ‘Black Dog’ perfectly capturing the ennui of lockdown and cementing the then London-based singer and songwriter as one of bedroom pop’s success stories. The record put Arlo on the map, its sound conjuring up images of the same four walls; a beautifully insular snapshot of a defining moment in time. It’s no surprise then that a move to Los Angeles, blossoming friendships with Lorde and album collaborator Phoebe Bridgers, and her relationship with Ashnikko would inspire a broader-reaching record, with second album ‘My Soft Machine’ firmly deconstructing those bricks.

The short, unapologetic opener ‘Bruiseless’ sets the scene for an uncharacteristically candid record that displays the same vulnerability that elevated her breakout tracks. “I wish that my eyes were still wide,” she states on the foreword, introducing a series of songs that sincerely touch on insecurity, anxiety, love, and lost innocence. Lyrically and thematically, Arlo embraces her LA home, not least in the grungy ‘Devotion’ or the glitterball disco of ‘Blades’ – the latter bringing up images of sun-kissed boardwalks.

‘Puppy’ layers electronic glitches under Arlo’s soft tones, sandwiched amid the slower tempo of the record’s second half more in keeping with her debut. The shimmering guitar work of ‘Room (Red Wings)’ harks effortlessly to the West Coast, while closer ‘Ghost’ reinterprets key ‘90s musical references. It’s all pulled together by a confidence that - in comparison - was in a fledging state back in 2021. Following a moment away from the limelight and pivotal interactions with unexpected muses, Arlo emerges with a newfound directness, finding a sound and voice that fully represents the multifaceted complexities of the world outside the bedroom.

Tags: Arlo Parks, Reviews, Album Reviews

Latest Reviews

Read More

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Stay Updated!

Get the best of DIY to your inbox each week.

Latest Issue

June 2024

With Glass Animals, Los Campesinos!, Alfie Templeman, Lava La Rue and many more.

Read Now Buy Now Subscribe to DIY