Summer is over. That’s a fact as inevitable and crushing as death, taxes, and graduating from this friend-filled, grassy, sunny, watery milieu. Luckily, the best songs of the summer have memorialized the sticky, sweltery, sensuous pleasures of the season, taking us back in an instant to when nothing lay ahead of us but perhaps a quick shift at work and a Netflix binge. Whether your summer was defined by our dire political landscape, an oppressive and humid climate, or a languid, stagnant loneliness, I’ve lined up some songs and albums which I thought captured it best.
Album 1: Free Yourself Up // Lake Street Dive
Lake Street Dive is a contemporary band that doesn’t subscribe to the synths and electronic basslines of most of today’s top 40. Four out of five members graduated from the New England Conservatory of Music, and the fifth is hyper-talented R&B/soul singer and keyboardist named Akie Bermiss. Most of them are multi-instrumentalists, and while lead singer Rachael Price’s voice stuns, the whole band can carry a tune. Although its lyrics err a little bit on the side of trite, the quality of the vocals and instrumentation more than compensate. If you’re looking for an authentic, purely instrumental reprieve from (admittedly enjoyable) electronic bass drops, samples, and loops, switch on any of their albums for sounds that can’t be replicated by a MacBook. Also check out their second album, Bad Self Portraits for a jazzier listening experience.
Album 2: Lush // Snail Mail
Snail Mail is an indie-rock band fronted by Ellicott City’s own 18-year-old classical guitarist and singer-songwriter Lindsey Jordan. The album’s title sums up its approach to soothing summer sounds appropriately— it’s comprised of rich melodies, smooth guitar, and emotionally honest lyrics ripe with the small, familiar disappointments of having stayed out late one more too many times than you probably should have, unrequited love, and sleeping in too late: all of the things which summer was explicitly designed for. If you’re settling into an adirondack to soak up some residual September heat waves, consider putting this on and surrendering yourself to the languor of its minor keys and lush, multilayered strains of guitar.
Album 3: Be the Cowboy // Mitski
Mitski is an indie-rock cult star whose songs focus on the loneliness and isolation of being a performer. She articulately details the figure she becomes before an audience—not perceived so much as a unique individual but an object on which to be projected. This nuance of thought heightens her music from just technical sophistication (she produces her work and studied at Purchase College’s Conservatory of Music) almost to the status of literary merit. Her newest album is more synth-pop oriented than her previous albums, contributing to her crossover from cult margins to mainstream success. If you’re looking for something simultaneously dark and up-tempo, gritty and triumphant, then “Be the Cowboy” is the meditation on recklessness in love that you need.