Updated: Oct 20, 2020
"Black Dog": Arlo Parks
Production: Gianluca Buccellati
Since her watertight debut with 2018's "Cola", Arlo Parks' musical trajectory has been so consistent in theme, style and quality that it is easy to forget that she is only 20, and yet to release a full-length project. Every aspect of her output - her artwork, song titles, arrangements, production, lyrics - all project a unified mood of self-aware, deadpan, nuanced reactions to pain. Yet even when her songs sound similar - see the bass/drum patterns for "Cola", "Sophie" and "Super Sad Generation" - they never feel predictable, that musical repetition only adds to a deliberately manufactured sense of monotony.
"Black Dog" is no different. Mental health is a subject often dealt with without any of the subtlety that artists like Arlo possess. Framed from the perspective of a friend/lover trying to help her other cope, Arlo's lyrics cut through the bullshit that surrounds mental health discussions. With two musical motifs that are maintained throughout the song - repeated, strummed guitar chords and a broken piano melody - the song's structure blends into one, mirroring the endlessness described in her lyrics. Couplets like "Let's go to the corner store and buy some fruit/I would do anything to get you out your room" involve painfully tangible sentiments of resignation and frustration, before the final line of the chorus - "It's so cruel what your mind can do for no reason" - is alarmingly disarming, all whilst delivered in the signature breathy, understated style that she has swiftly made her own.