I don’t know about you, but January has never felt so long. Maybe it’s because so much has happened in this short amount of time, however we can’t wait for the next coming months. Where the weather will be better, and where hopefully more people will be vaccinated so we can slowly go back to ‘normal’ life. In the meantime, we can luckily still use music as an escape and dream away to better days, especially with these new tunes.
Editor: Megan Hofman
(Cover image: Arlo Parks)
Arlo Parks – Collapsed in Sunbeams (Transgressive Records)
One of the most exciting new artists to grace the music scene is Arlo Parks who has released her eagerly anticipated debut album ‘Collapsed In Sunbeams’. With Billie Eilish and Phoebe Bridgers among the fans of Arlo, the 20-year-old west-Londoner’s angelic vocal and poetic lyrics tackles the struggles of unrequited love and depression. She has already been hailed as a voice of a generation. This soulful retro record is laced with hints of hip hop and R&B and gives a nostalgic feel as if each of these songs are polaroid’s that are reminiscent of navigating through your teenage years.
Arlo’s sensitive approach to storytelling is ethereal and cathartic with songs such as ‘Caroline’ where she describes an argument that she witnessed between a couple who are complete strangers to her. The picture she paints is so vivid, you almost feel as though you are in the moment and feel the pain of the heartbreak with zero context on the couple. Her emotional directness on songs such as ‘Black Dog’ paints a bleak picture of what it’s like to watch somebody you love battle depression. The mellow guitar that floats with a smooth drum beat makes this song so raw and vulnerable and definitely the standout track on the album. It’s hard not to get choked up listening to the lyrics as she describes watching someone dear to her trying to get better but losing the battle. Similarly, ‘Hope’ is a more upbeat track that explores the isolation and loneliness of depression but despite how alone and ashamed you may feel, that things will get better and – you are not alone – a phrase that is reinforced throughout the song, something that is even more relevant on a personal level in today’s world.
The record ends with the song ‘Portra 400’ which opens with the lyric “Making rainbows out of something painful” which Arlo describes as the “bittersweet sentiment of the record” and it feels like the perfect way to end the album with an optimistic-sounding melody contrasting with the imagery of toxic friendship in the lyrics. To put it simply, this record is heartbreakingly gorgeous and easy to get lost in. In such a bleak and sombre time, ‘Collapsed In Sunbeams’ brings colour and comfort, Arlo Parks has already established herself as a much needed ray of light.
Words: Hollie Sackett
Squid – Narrator (Warp Records)
This week post-punk oddballs SQUID returned with a new track ‘Narrator’ to celebrate the announcement of a highly anticipated debut album Bright Green Field, set to release in early May through Warp records. The track signals a lot of firsts for the band. It’s the first song from their somewhat hefty catalogue to get the music video treatment, in which the band are rendered into a 3D animated cityscape in excruciating detail thanks to director Felix Green. It plays almost as a graphics test as the camera zooms around an everchanging landscape to fit the various motifs of the 8-minute track. Martha Skye Murphy is SQUID’s first official collaborator, who adds soft spoken word vocal bridges and haunting screams towards the track’s explosive ending. The track manages to encapsulate what fans love from SQUID, build on that but also add an experimental element in the production and arrangement that are refreshing and intriguing upon every listen. A masterful dive into the more experimental side of the UK’s post-punk revival scene, ‘Narrator’ is a clear indication of the greatness to come from SQUID’s first album, enforcing the band’s sentiment that this is “the most ambitious thing” they’ve ever done.
Words: Josh Eastoe
Brent Faiyaz ft.Tyler, the Creator – Gravity (Lost Kids)
Brent Faiyaz and Tyler the Creator just dropped a new track called “Gravity”. It’s the first new piece of music from Brent Faiyaz this year and it doesn’t disappoint. Gravity is used as a metaphor meaning Brent and Tyler get pulled back towards their loved ones.
Sonically the song builds on both artist’s universes, sounding very much in line with Tyler’s earlier collaborations with Channel Tres and Freddie Gibbs, “Fuego” and “Something To Rap About”. The earth-y sounding drums fit the indie-pop progression and complement each other nicely. Tyler rides that style with perfect ease, I wish his verse was a little longer. The chorus ticks all Brent Faiyaz boxes: thick vocal layering and agile backing vocals.
Lyrically it doesn’t provide too much new context. Brent Faiyaz has already discussed topics like stardom, toxic love and insecurity before. The latter two in an absolutely unique way I must add. But it would be interesting to hear more about his intriguing world. Alas, a cool, short little track that can be found in my morning playlist from now on.
Words: Lu-Hao Veritas