Arlo Parks: The Voice And The Vinyl
"I’m so glad Parks is here to brighten this dark year". - The Independent
The observation that Arlo Parks' aptly-titled debut album Collapsed In Sunbeams has been one of the few rays of light across the darkened skies of the last 12 months is a note that echoes through almost all of the LP's dazzling write-ups. Since appearing on the cover of the NME last July, we've watched Arlo take the mantle of Apple Music's Up Next Artist and BBC Introducing Artist of the Year before edging into the global spotlight. It takes a lot more than industry hype to go from a hotly-tipped prospect on the cover of Clash Magazine to appearances on Later... with Jools Holland, Live On Jimmy Kimmel and The Graham Norton Show, articles in The New York Times and recording a ‘variety hour special’ for Amazon Prime just as your debut album drops. And one of the brightest spots of Arlo's sunshine is that while she may be the face of Spotify New Music Friday, she's also carrying a torch for good old-fashioned vinyl.
Around the release of Collapsed In Sunbeams at the end of January, the online buzz became a blitzkrieg; the record is the most talked-about UK debut since Jorja Smith's Lost & Found. Arlo presents as an immensely likeable 20-year old whose poetry belies a worldly, relatable soul and musically, there's something for everyone. While NME has labelled Arlo "The voice of Gen Z" her place in the zeitgeist doesn't come at the cost of approachability.
Latest single 'Hope' is as good a place to start as any; jazzy drum loops, an indie sensibility and wise wordplay that sound as at home on a Soundcloud playlist as on daytime Radio 2. Then check out the confessional 'Cola' - that of 15 million Spotify streams - the track Arlo declares “the defining moment in terms of establishing the sound of Arlo Parks."
Townsend Music's journey with Arlo began back at the start of 2020, running the official store for Arlo’s Super Sad Generation EP with her management team Beatnik Creative. Townsend’s D2C New Business Manager Ben James recalls: “I’ve always liked Beatnik’s taste in music and the focus & hard work that Ali Raymond and Sarah Rodriguez put into only a few artists at a time. I started noticing more from a new artist they were developing called Arlo Parks and when I first heard ‘Cola’ I knew I wanted to be involved in her journey in some way”.
As the streaming numbers for 'Cola' grew (and grew) Arlo and the team were sensitive to the importance of physical formats for the fans and added a red vinyl version of the Super Sad Generation EP,
“It was great to see an artist so young and relevant having fans that had a genuine interest in having her physical music in their hands” - Ben James
After signing an album deal with Transgressive Records (Foals, Songhoy Blues, Hippo Campus), plans began for Arlo's debut LP Collapsed in Sunbeams. Alongside the Townsend Store-exclusive signed clear vinyl, fan bundles included a limited edition signed flexi-disc, showcasing Arlo’s poetry, and a signed Best of the Lo-Fi Lounge CD. By the time the album dropped on Friday 26th February 2021, all the bundle extras and vinyl on the store were sold out.
Yooooooo you guys sold out all the vinyl on my store!! - @arloparks
Reviews of the record have been appropriately glowing, with The Guardian echoing general accord about the prescience of Arlo's music during trying times: "Right now, Collapsed in Sunbeams feels like a warm breeze in the depths of a miserable winter." The consensus continues with The Line of Best Fit declaring "Collapsed In Sunbeams is timeless", musicOMH.com calling the record a "spellbinding debut " and Consequence of Sound considering it "multifaceted, deeply considered, and above all full of kindness."
Ben concludes: “There’s a real desire out there for Arlo on vinyl. This album is gonna reach more and more people during 2021, and will stand up at the year's end as not only one of the best debuts of 2021 but one of the best albums outright." With the ongoing demand for physical formats of Collapsed in Sunbeams, we’ve added red vinyl and picture discs alongside red, blue and white cassettes, which can all be found on Arlo’s Official Store with a whole slew of new t-shirts, hoodies and tote bags.
And we leave the last word to Arlo herself, who has kindly taken time out of her hectic schedule to provide us with some final thoughts on our favourite format:
"There’s something distinctly special about holding a physical version of an album that means the world to you - falling in love with the vinyl format is what started my music making journey." - Arlo Parks