Arlo Parks - 'My Soft Machine'

7/10

When Arlo Parks first broke through with her stunning initial EPs 'Super Sad Generation' and 'Sophie' in 2019, there was no denying the sheer talent and warmth she brought to her music. So it came as no surprise that when she finally dropped her outstanding debut LP 'Collapsed In Sunbeams' in 2021, it was met with rapturous acclaim, landing her a Mercury Prize award in the process. But like so many in her position, she ended up spending a lot of that time away from the live stage due to pandemic restrictions. But after finally getting out on the road this last year, she has now looked to follow up that wondrous rise with her progressive sophomore studio album 'My Soft Machine', a record that sees her branch out her sound even more.

While 'Collapsed In Sunbeams' was this incredibly cohesive and succinct release that saw her pursue a rich and woozy aesthetic from start to finish, 'My Soft Machine' sees her venture more towards an eclectic feel, taking cues from some of her lesser known influences throughout. Her recent single 'Devotion' is a clear nod to the 90s grunge era while the Phoebe Bridgers collaboration 'Pegasus' moves further into a dream-pop realm, which has become a more synonymous texture on this new collection.

Although its more diverse direction does sometimes dampen the flow and progression of her newest record, 'My Soft Machine' is still brimming with fresh and interesting ideas searching for the next phase in her musical evolution. While Arlo Parks doesn't have quite the same energy coming into this record as she did before, it still makes for a beautifully endearing listen throughout.

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