Arlo Parks’s debut in 2018 with her song “Cola” prompted a prediction from BBC music critics that she would be a breakthrough artist.
She did not disappoint.
Earlier this year, the single “Eugene” caught the attention of listeners worldwide. Now 19 years old, the British musician from South London is gaining more momentum than ever, even amidst the uncertainty COVID-19 poses for artists. Her latest single “Black Dog” fittingly addresses mental and emotional health during the pandemic.
As a musician, she fuses together bedroom pop, indie pop, and indie folk with a trademark entrancing voice. As a poet, she utilizes language most skillfully and sensitively—in this new track especially, she soothes through internal and slant rhymes.
“Let’s go to the corner store and buy some fruit, I would do anything to get you out your room, …just eat some food,” Arlo Parks sing-pleads in her chorus. Fruit, room, food. The soft ‘oo’ sound dragging out those words is most appropriate, embodying the seemingly endless ennui and languor many are experiencing.
But as much as the song may be a dismal meditation on the downward spiral of mental health in isolation, the soothing chords also remind us to not be so hard on ourselves. Arlo Parks’s song is both a lament and an affirmation, especially as the music fades out with her tenderly repeating, “It’s so cruel what your mind can do for no reason.”
In just a bit over three and a half minutes, “Black Dog” offers a virtual but nonetheless sincere pat on the back to listeners—a priceless sentiment in isolation when we cannot physically embrace to comfort one another.
Parks is also featured on KCPR’s curated playlist, Moon. Give the playlist a listen if you’d like to fall in love with more up-and-coming art:
Vanya Truong is a Cal Poly English junior and KCPR staff member. Image credit to Arlo Parks.