Many of us discovered Arlo Parks at exactly the right time. The singles that would be on her debut LP, Collapsed in Sunbeams, were released in 2020’s anxious spring when uncertainty and isolation catalyzed months of psychological cannibalization. Whether you’re naturally a recluse or were sick of yourself by week one, we were all oscillating between doom-scrolling news and binging anything that could distract us from doom-scrolling the news. We needed to hear lyrics like “You’re not alone like you think you are.” Nearly every track on the 21-year-old Parks’ debut features similar words of acknowledgment and affirmation.
Considering her startling positivity in the face of our everyday emotional pangs, it strikes me odd that Arlo Parks enjoys many of the same artists that previous generations have looked towards to wallow in their existential ennui. Parks chose one of Beth Gibbon’s bleakest moments in Portishead’s “Roads” during her My KUTX episode and last year and covered Radiohead’s “Fake Plastic Trees” with Phoebe Bridgers (I didn’t know this song could sound more tragic before I heard their version). Musically you can hear these somber 90’s sounds on her debut, but it gives her comforting words a feeling of authentic empathy rather than well-meaning, but insensitive platitudes.
Consider yourself blessed if you saw Arlo Parks at Empire Control Room earlier this week–the next time she comes to the states, I guarantee you it’ll be at a less intimate space. Presently, Arlo Park’s soon-to-be meteoric rise remains terrestrial enough for her to talk with us and perform a few songs in Studio 1A this week (we’re back, baby). Check out her performance below.
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Arlo Parks: vocals; Dani Diodato: guitar
Engineer: Jake Perlman; Producer: Deidre Gott; Cameras: Gabriel C. Pérez; Edit: Patricia Lim