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2021 Music Preview: 'Little Oblivions,' 'Collapsed In Sunbeams'


It's a new year, and hopefully that means a lot of new great music is coming our way. We've asked some of our colleagues at NPR Music to highlight a few of the albums that they're looking forward to.

MARISSA LORUSSO, BYLINE: Hi. I'm Marissa Lorusso. I'm a writer and editor for NPR Music. And one album that I'm really excited about this year is "Collapsed In Sunbeams" by Arlo Parks, which comes out January 29.


ARLO PARKS: (Singing) Summer in my eyelids, eating rice and beans. Painting Kaia's bedroom, think she wanted green.

LORUSSO: So this album is Arlo Parks' debut album. She's a British singer-songwriter. And her sound is kind of like bedroom pop mixed with a little bit of indie folk and a little bit of R&B. I personally really love the way that she drops references to the music that she loves in her songs. She name-drops the lead singer of The Cure on her song "Black Dog," the lead singer of My Chemical Romance on the song "Cola" and the rapper MF DOOM on her song "George." I think this song, "Green Eyes," is a perfect example of the really soothing way that she sings and the little lyrical details that she includes that really put you in a time and place.


PARKS: (Singing) Some of these folks want to make you cry, but you got to trust how you feel inside and shine - and shine, yeah, yeah.

LORUSSO: Artists like Billy Eilish and Phoebe Bridgers are already fans of hers, and I think that this debut album is going to earn her a lot more fans. Also, I think this is just going to be a really big year for her.


PARKS: (Singing) Remember when they caught us making out after school.

LORUSSO: Another record that I'm really excited about is "Little Oblivions" by Julien Baker, which comes out February 26.


JULIEN BAKER: (Singing) I miss it high, how it dulled the terror and the beauty. And now...

LORUSSO: Her debut album was really centered around just her and her guitar. It had this very beautiful, sparse sound. And then on her second album, she added piano and a little bit of woodwinds and strings. Now for her third album, she cranks up the volume. There's bass, drums, synthesizers and more on this record. I think you can definitely hear that on the album's first single, "Faith Healer."


BAKER: (Singing) Everything I love, I'd trade it in to feel it rush into my chest.

LORUSSO: She's a Tennessee-based songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who writes these extremely honest, vulnerable songs that grapple with self-worth, relationships, mental health and her faith. I think she's definitely drawing on a lineage of bands that she grew up listening to in the early 2000s who combined lyrics about Christianity, which weren't necessarily super straightforward - you wouldn't necessarily know that they were lyrics about faith if you weren't looking for that - but then combine that with this kind of, like, alternative rock, emo sound. So she's definitely continuing in that particular lineage.


BAKER: (Singing) Faith healer, come put your hands on me. A snake oil dealer, I'll believe you if you make me feel something.

LORUSSO: I think Julien is an artist who's always pushing herself and always growing, so it's always exciting to see what next step she's going to take and where it will take her.


BAKER: (Singing) Faith healer.

MARTIN: That's NPR Music's Marissa Lorusso with two albums she's looking forward to in the new year - Julien Baker's "Little Oblivions" and Arlo Parks' "Collapsed In Sunbeams." Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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