Arlo Parks Releases New Album “My Soft Machine”
London-based singer-songwriter Arlo Parks released her sophomore album “My Soft Machine” on May 26, 2023.
It is her first body of work in two years since the 2021 debut album “Collapsed in Sunbeams”.
The album comprises 12-track (Apple edition: 15-track), featuring a guest appearance from American singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers. Produced by Paul Epworth, Romil Hemnani, and Al Hugg.
Arlo Parks said of the album in a statement, “The world/our view of it is peppered by the biggest things we experience - our traumas, upbringing, vulnerabilities almost like visual snow. This record is life through my lens, through my body - the mid-20s anxiety, the substance abuse of friends around me, the viscera of being in love for the first time, navigating PTSD and grief and self-sabotage and joy, moving through worlds with wonder and sensitivity - what it's like to be trapped in this particular body. There is a quote from a Joanna Hogg film called The Souvenir, it's an A24 semi-autobiographical film with Tilda Swinton - it recounts a young film student falling in love with an older, charismatic man then being drawn into his addiction - in an early scene he's explaining why people watch films - 'we don't want to see life as it is played out we want to see life as it is experienced in this soft machine.' So there we have it... My Soft Machine.”
Arlo Parks shared on social media, “My Soft Machine is finally out. I'm giddy, I'm crying, I'm grinning, I'm throwing myself around this apartment, I'm on fire, I'm terrified, I'm feeling everything right now. Thank you to my dear friends who made this with me and who loved me whilst I was making it. Thank you to my team and my managers for holding the work gently. Thank you to my love for your heart, your care and your inquisitive green eyes. Thank you to the artists and authors and filmmakers and poets who nourished me through this - I am nothing but a student at the end of it all. This record is yours now. I hope you enjoy the offering. I'm off to cry again.”
She told Apple Music about the concept of the album, “The core concept of the project is that this is reality and memory through my eyes, experienced within this body. From the loss of innocence to the reliving of trauma to the endless nights bursting through Koreatown to first kisses in dimly lit dive bars, this is about my life.”
She continued, “The community that organically formed around the album is one of my favorite things about it. I think there is a confidence to the work. There is a looseness and an energy. There was a sense of sculpting that went beyond the more instinctive and immediate process of making album one. I am very proud of this.”
Arlo Parks explained track-by-track for the album via Apple Music.
“This song is about childhood abandon and the growing pains. It was inspired by a conversation I had with [American poet] Ocean Vuong where he said he was constantly trying to capture the unadulterated joy of cycling up to a friend's house and abandoning the bike on the grass, wheels spinning, whilst you race up to their door—the softness and purity of that moment.”
“I wrote this song the first time I met my dear friend Romil from BROCKHAMPTON. My friends and I were party hopping and every time we called an Uber it was a Cadillac Escalade which we thought was hilarious at the time. This is a song that is simply about being happy and feeling truly accepted.”
“Romil, Baird and I were driving to a coffee shop called Maru in the Arts District of LA in Baird's Suzuki Vitara that I nicknamed the 'Red Rocket.' We were blasting '17 Days' by Prince. The three of us decided two things during that 15-minute round trip: That we had to fully commit to drama and that we were a rock band for the day.”
“The reference to the aquarium scene in Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet refers to the idea of looking at a person you once knew so intimately and something indescribable has changed—as if you're looking at each other through ocean water or obscure glass.”
“The guitars you hear on this song are Paul [Epworth, the British producer who also worked on Collapsed in Sunbeams] and I just improvising. It was the last day of a long working week, we were feeling free and connected and our heads were cleared by exhaustion—we didn't even have the capacity to overthink. This song has one of my favorite lines I've ever written: 'I just want to see you iridescent charming cats down from trees/Mugler aviators hiding eyes that laugh when concealed.'”
“Making 'Weightless' was a defining moment in the album process. I felt completely unchained from Collapsed in Sunbeams. Anything was possible, Paul [Epworth] and I were just chaos-dancing around the room and giggling. This one is very special to me and gave me so much creative confidence.”
“Pegasus (feat. Phoebe Bridgers)”
“Of course 'Pegasus' features lovely Phoebe [Bridgers]. The inspirations for the sparseness melting into the light, dance-y beat were 'White Ferrari' by Frank Ocean, 'Talk Down' by Dijon, and 'Grieve Not the Spirit' by AIR. This is the first song I've written being so candid about how tricky it can be to accept someone being unbelievably kind.”
“The original demo for this song was recorded in a hotel room in Toronto. I had the idea for the riff in the chorus and I was lying wide awake at 3am just letting it drive me insane. Then I got up and ran about 15 blocks, through parks and across bridges, to get my guitar from the bus and get the idea down. It was very dramatic.”
“I had always wanted to capture that half-spoken, half-melodic cadence—kind of like Frank Ocean in 'In My Room'—and I was so pleased when I achieved it. The fuzzed-out guitar-sounding instrument is actually this little synth that [producer] Buddy [Ross] has. We were trying to recreate the energy of [my bloody valentine's] loveless.
“Garrett Ray from Vampire Weekend's touring band is on drums and David Longstreth [the lead singer and guitarist] from Dirty Projectors is on guitar for this one. Sculpting the right sonic treatment for this song took what felt like years but it's definitely my favorite song on the record from a textural and feel point of view.”
“Room (Red Wings)”
“'Red Wings' is a reference to the book Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson. The main character has distinctive red wings, his home life is tumultuous and he finds comfort in photography and falls deeply in love with a man called Herakles. The fragility and heart-rending nature of this book mirrors the broken quality of the song.”
“This is the oldest song on the record, I demoed it in the winter of 2020 in my childhood bedroom. At the core of the song is a sense of embracing help, embracing human touch, learning not to suffer in solitude, learning to let people in.”
- source : Apple Music