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Arlo Parks - My Soft Machine (Album Review)

Friday, 02 June 2023 Written by Jack Terry

Love is a bottomless well in pop music. Whether it's being celebrated, lamented, mourned or craved, it has inspired volumes upon volumes of songs and albums. Since the release of her 2021 Mercury Prize winning debut ‘Collapsed In Sunbeams’, Arlo Parks has swapped London for LA and fallen for rapper Ashnikko. If 'My Soft Machine' is anything to go by, things seem to be going great for the couple.

There’s a common thread on ‘My Soft Machine’ of Parks trying to understand how she can be so happy, starting with the spoken word Bruiseless, where she hazily contemplates lost innocence and the ability to still find love. The line “Almost everyone that I love has been abused and I am included,” mingles with “the person I love is patient with me, she’s feeding me cheese and I’m happy” in a stream of consciousness that wears its heart on its sleeve.

Impurities continues that thread, asking “why do you embrace all my impurities” over sparkling synths that sound like contentment on a warm summer’s day.

Parks’ ability to capture a moment and a feeling is wonderful, with the dreamy Weightless and romantic Pegasus (featuring a gorgeous turn from Phoebe Bridgers) providing a perfect snapshot of what it’s like to love and feel loved.

Parks dips into more visceral descriptions of love on Devotion, sketching its sharper edges and all-consuming sense of possibility, and the choice to employ grunge guitars to represent that feeling gives ‘My Soft Machine’ real punch.

Meanwhile, Purple Phase and Dog Rose employ everything from shoegaze to trip-hop to create a moving and relatable account of love, while the lyrics continually sway toward poetry. Parks’ delicacy in discussing the ups and downs, the realities and wishes of romance, is spellbinding.

Parks has risen fast to the pinnacle of British pop and it seems impossible that ‘My Soft Machine’ is just her second full length album. Effortless and enthralling, this is your new summer soundtrack. That’s the power of love.

Arlo Parks Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Wed June 14 2023 - LEEDS Wardrobe
Tue September 05 2023 - DUBLIN 3Olympia Theatre
Fri September 08 2023 - MANCHESTER Academy
Thu September 28 2023 - LONDON Eventim Apollo

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