Reviews

Arlo Parks “My Soft Machine” Album Review

My Soft Machine (Apple Music Edition)

Arlo Parks

  • Genre: Pop
  • Date: 26 May, 2023
  • Content: Not-explicit
  • Region: NGA
  • Track(s): 15
  • ℗ 2023 Arlo Parks under exclusive License to Transgressive Records Ltd.

Arlo keeps her friendly, appealing mood on the new record, “My Soft Machine,” but she starts to take musical and lyrical risks. On the new album, Parks keeps faithful to her DIY roots, but she has broadened her sound as a producer. The investigation draws on a wide range of sources, including visual artists like photographer Nan Goldin and director David Lynch, as well as bands like Portishead, Elliott Smith, and Joni Mitchell.

Parks provides a richer sound overall than on earlier recordings. Although the vocals occasionally verge on overproduction, her distinctive style is maintained by frequent transitions from singing to spoken work. Parks slowly and intentionally pronounces some of the most intimate lines.

Album Cover Art

Arlo Parks &Quot;My Soft Machine&Quot; Album Review, Yours Truly, Reviews, February 23, 2024

Arlo stares into the distance, holding what resembles a pillow or board and preventing the direct rays of the sun to the top of her head but allowing it kiss all over her face and arm. The shot is giving calm, soft vibes.

Tracks and Features

“Bruiseless,” the album’s first track, masterfully establishes the mood with the line “I just wish that my eyes were still wide.” On the dreamy opening track, she murmurs, “I wish I was bruiseless,” lamenting her own lost innocence while lamenting her inability to protect others from evil powers, including all the complicated, not always positive emotions entwined with the term “love.”

Parks pushes her usual lo-fi loops into a harsher guitar-driven swirl on the song “Devotion,” even mentioning Kim Deal of the Breeders in the lyrics. The song is a calculated risk that pays off. It’s the shortest track (apart from the overture), with a tiny runtime belying its vast aims and enjoyable surprises. Thrashier than the rest, “Devotion” features a grunge crunch reminiscent of the Deftones. The track’s midway dive into a flashy tornado of electric-guitar chords is as unexpected as it is delightful.

“Blades,” which follows closely behind, with an addictive hook that sounds like it bounced about the cosmos for a thousand years before Parks grabbed it. The mellow, groove-forward song, which depicts Parks’ yearning for an ex-intimate in the midst of a celebration decorated with symbols of the good life—Tequila-based drinks and Diptyque candles

Phoebe Bridgers provides background vocals on the song “Pegasus”. The song may be the most cautiously optimistic in each of their individual catalogs, as the pair repeat the lyric “I think you’re special ’cause you told me” in it. The song’s breakbeats and melodic indie rock style witness to Parks’s amorous excitement through the use of “hard cherries” and “Prussian blue sheets.”

She seems on the verge of tears as she pleads for acceptance from someone who hardly acknowledges her in “Weightless,” easily her most ambitious song to date. In contrast to the images of her descending into depression, Parks sings in the song “Purple Phase” about the possibility of her depressed friend recovering. “I just want to see her iridescent charming cats down from trees,” she exclaims in a sing-song voice.

Parks is completely enthralled by the idea of being seen as a full human in “Impurities,” where cascades of synth wash over a gently sauntering beat. “I radiate like a star… when you embrace all my impurities,” she sings on the chorus, confident enough in herself to be fine with whatever imperfections her lover might have: “Don’t hide the bruise, I know it’s hard to be alive sometimes.”

Tracklist

NO

TITLE

TIME

1 Bruiseless 1:11
2 Impurities 3:49
3 Devotion 2:45
4 Blades 3:41
5 Purple Phase 4:24
6 Weightless 4:02
7 Pegasus (feat. Phoebe Bridgers) 3:06
8 Dog Rose 3:08
9 Puppy 3:13
10 I’m Sorry 3:07
11 Room (Red Wings) 4:28
12 Ghost 3:47
13 Mystery of Love 3:39
14 Blades (Acoustic) 3:24
15 Dog Rose (Acoustic) 2:31

Album Theme

In her second album, “My Soft Machine,” Parks strikes a balance between her own sorrow and disappointment and a sense of innocent wonder.

Production Credits

Arlo collaborated with producers such as Paul Epworth, Ariel Rechtshaid, Romil Hemnani, Frank Ocean associate Buddy Ross, and Carter Lang, while also self-producing a portion of the album.

Stream

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