My Soft Machine

Arlo Parks

My Soft Machine

“Weightless” was one of the first songs Arlo Parks wrote for her second album, My Soft Machine. It may have come together in just 45 minutes, during a day in the studio with producer Paul Epworth, but it proved to be a guiding light for the London singer-songwriter as she created the follow-up to her Mercury Prize-winning debut Collapsed In Sunbeams. “At the beginning of the album-making process, there’s always a sense of everything being quite nebulous and I’m just listening to a lot of music, a lot of podcasts, mining for new inspiration and being in a little bit of a limbo space of not quite knowing what I’m going to do next,” she tells Apple Music. “And there’s always a song that I make towards the beginning of the process that cements the direction a little bit. This album is so varied in terms of the influences and the kind of emotional spaces that it comes from, but ‘Weightless’ set the ethos of the record, which was to be a little bit braver than on the last one, and that no kind of sonic realm was out of bounds. I remember reading something that Missy Elliott was saying about second albums being the time to experiment and flip people’s expectations of what you are capable of.” On “Weightless,” that sonic innovation is immediately felt in the sinewy synth-and-drums groove—initially inspired by Jai Paul’s “Desert River (Unfinished)”—that underpins beautifully gauzy and reflective vocals. But the song also heralds a new shift in Parks’ lyric writing, informed by the emotionally incisive style of novelists such as Ocean Vuong and Annie Ernaux. “I wanted to have an approach to songwriting that felt very direct, almost as if I was journaling a situation, play by play,” she says. “What actually happened? And how exactly did I feel? There was no abstraction. I just wanted it to be very bare and very honest. I’d always been super-sensory and alluded to multiple different situations and written about characters. This felt like the first time I was like, ‘This is how I was feeling. This is how I was hurt by this person.’ It felt new to me, but it also felt so good. That’s a thread that I carried out throughout My Soft Machine, that sense of exploring how I felt in a way that was very unfiltered and stream-of-consciousness.” Listen to “Weightless” and pre-add My Soft Machine now. Once it’s released on May 26, the entire album will be available in your library.

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