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The Inner Workings of Arlo Parks: A Review of ‘My Soft Machine’

By Maryjane Perez | 5 June 2023

Arlo Parks My Soft Machine album cover
Via Arlo Parks on Spotify

Two years since Arlo Parks’ debut album ‘Collapsed in Sunbeams’ comes the release of her sophomore album ‘My Soft Machine.’ Remaining true to her vulnerable writing style, this twelve track album takes listeners on an exploration through the love and loss Arlo Parks has encountered throughout her life. The dreamy, bedroom pop sound would be almost soothing if it weren’t for the somber lyrics that follow.

On the opening track, "Bruiseless”, Parks is candid about the emotional wounds that have permanently changed her. Soft sniffling sounds can be heard in the beginning of the song, as Parks begins the first line “I wish I was bruiseless.” She reflects on a time before she felt any true pain and yearns for the days when she wasn’t so aware of life’s hardships.

A lot of the album weaves through the intricacies of mental health struggles, offering honest and vulnerable messages. In “Impurities,” Parks encourages her partner to withhold from hiding any hurt, singing, “Don’t hide the bruise / I know it’s hard to be alive sometimes.” She confesses to having an in depth understanding of the emotional scars we collect throughout life. Although Parks is encouraging of others wearing their wounds on their sleeves, she struggles to practice what she preaches in “Impurities.”

Similarly, in “Puppy,” she speaks to a friend going through loss and depression about feelings of immense pain, singing, “I know some things don't get easier / I know some things hurt forever.” The instrumental of this track mimics the disorienting experience of coping with losing a loved one. The sound is whimsical like that of a lucid dream – distorted beats and chimes.

The track “I’m Sorry” encapsulates her battle with wanting to be open but also having trouble with expressing her pain for others to see. She ruefully sings, “I’m sorry / It’s easier to be numb.” This is a real insight into the complexities of her mental health struggles that will surely resonate with listeners.

Despite these difficulties, Parks still finds space to embrace the tender feelings that make the lows of life a bit more bearable. Featuring soft drums and groovy guitars, “Dog Rose” adds an easygoing touch to the album. Love and infatuation fight to exist even through the powerlessness Parks sometimes feels. The lyrics “You got me feeling hyper real / I wanna belong to you” are proof of it.

Be sure to stream My Soft Machine here!


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