Arlo Parks’ debut album, Collapsed in Sunbeams, opens with a poem of the same name. “Stretched out open to beauty, however brief or violent, I see myself ablaze with joy,” recites the 20-year-old, who started writing poetry and short stories when she was just 11. Combining sing-speak vocals and her distinct soulful, soft voice, the former Dazed100er melds heartbreak and longing (“Why do we make the simplest things so hard?” she sings on “Too Good”) with a much-needed optimism (“Just know it won’t hurt so much forever,” goes the chorus of “Hurts”). A triumphant and intoxicating debut.
Elsewhere, south London favourites Goat Girl return with their sophomore album, On All Fours, a hazy exploration of identity, anxiety, and disillusion; Madlib recruits Four Tet for Sound Ancestors, to arrange what’s technically his first solo album; Mica Levi drops their second surprise album in as many months, this time titled Blue Alibi; Trent Reznor fan reznorwave merges the Nine Inch Nail frontman’s quotes with trippy vaporwave beats on enjoy the sadness; and west London rapper Fredo shares his Dave-produced second album, Money Can’t Buy Happiness.