How many songs have you heard which take 19th century narcissistic romantic poet, Lord George Byron and re-imagine him as a modern day playboy who woos ladies by playing MF Doom?
We’re guessing probably not many. But Arlo Parks is no ordinary talent. The rising 19-year-old London poet, singer and producer has been on our radar since her exquisite breakthrough single ‘Cola’ which fizzed (sorry) with confessional, tender poetry, taking in mentions of Bacardi and Gerard Way.
MF Doom and emo demigod Way are not just references but also influences, part of a list which includes King Krule, Erykah Badu, and Portishead, and also takes in figures from literature like Allen Ginsberg and Sylvia Plath. Her songs are all her own though, weaving together delicate downtempo grooves, acoustic guitars and gently swirling harmonies.
She’s self-deprecatingly described herself as “a black kid who can’t dance for shit, listens to emo music and currently has a crush on some girl in my Spanish class.” But it’s a major understatement for someone who, by 18, had already written and self-produced an album’s worth of material. She’s now signed to Transgressive Records and her Super Sad Generation and Sophie EPs capture the lovelorn messiness, consumerism and existential angst of Generation Z in vivid detail (she talks of writing stories so complete “you could taste them”).
She spent last summer playing festivals – including four shows at Glastonbury – and supported Jordan Rakei and Loyle Carner, and it feels like the world is at her feet. The perceptiveness of her lyrics can make you forget that she’s only just starting out. But she had more new music out at the start of next year, a first headline tour coming up and an album pencilled in for the summer. It seems like she’s going to own 2020.