Sounds of the Summer


Our writers talk about the songs that meant something to them this summer

Summer is a time to spend with friends and loved ones; full of moments that matter. Music soundtracks almost every moment of every day; I always find that there’s at least one song that sticks out in my mind to remind me of these times. Here, our writers talk about some of the songs that resonated with them this summer.

Taylor Donoughue-Smith: Talking Heads – This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)

I got told off last summer for my song of the summer; apparently, it was too depressing. Thankfully, this summer’s song is a lot happier. Talking Heads’ This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody) is perhaps the greatest love song of all time. I can’t do this song justice in 150 words. David Byrne described it as a ‘real honest kind of love song’, and I think that’s correct – it’s sentimental, but in the right way. It doesn’t rely on clichés or corniness. It doesn’t even make sense at times (‘Hi yeah, we drift in and out/ Hi yeah, sing into my mouth), but you can tell that even the non-sequiturs come from a place of real meaning. This is a song full of meaning. As for that ‘naive’ melody, it’s perhaps this song’s strongest suit; I can’t think of anything with more feeling. It’s certainly summery. This is my final summer before graduating, before the vigours of the real world and I got to spend a lot of time with the people that matter to me, including my girlfriend. This song summed up the memories we made and the fun we had. It was a real blast – I can’t think of a song that sums it up better.

Olivia Kenny: Señorita – Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello

I know what you’re thinking, I went for the predictable choice. The song was number one for weeks, and its lyrics were a firm favourite for Instagram captions. Señorita by Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes will always remind me of this past summer. It elicits memories of my week in Mallorca lying on a sunbed with a cocktail and my mini-break to Amsterdam with my friends. It even reminds me of the commute to and from work, as my local station played it every morning and night. Señorita is a perfect summer song, and it’ll be a staple for my holiday playlists for years to come.

Tom Simmonds: Blood Orange – Dark and Handsome

Summer can connote starkly opposed things. For some, it means gruelling hours behind a till, for others, summer is about days basking in a seemingly never-setting sun. Summer, like life, tends to be a bit of both, which is why Blood Orange and Toro Y Moi’s Dark and Handsome is a worthy song of the summer. As this song off June’s Angel’s Pulse mixtape begins, it is easy to be confused by this sentiment. The warm synths that have come to characterise Dev Hynes’ work are almost synonymous with the idyllic, sunshine-and-barbecues image of summer we have come to hold. Hynes’ pained, muted R&B vocals betray the human emotions that belie any romanticised vision of, well, anything. As Toro Y Moi closes the song with his warning, ‘don’t be acting dumb cookies gonna crumble… happens all the time plus I’m Dark and Handsome’. We are left knowing that no Hot Girl Summer can ever overshadow the tribulations of being human.

Aidan Riddell: Black Country, New Road – Sunglasses

With a reputation for exhilarating live shows and a bold debut single to their name, Black Country, New Road solidifies their position as a golden child of the UK’s underground scene with this second studio outing. Sunglasses is a three-act melting pot of atmosphere, chaos, observational humour, social satire and self-deprecation. Proving their ability to seamlessly blend experimental post-punk and jazzy art-rock, evoke lyricism that is both shamelessly literal and seductively cryptic, and shine in a studio environment as well as a live setting. The band has made its case for breakout act of the year with this single. Fans of other Speedy Wunderground signees such as Black Midi and Squid should rock this particular pair of shades without a moment’s hesitation as it would be a crime for me to spoil every twist and turn of this 9-minute odyssey without you having experienced it yourself.

Toby Cooke: Self Esteem – The Best

Self Esteem has been in my headphones all summer. She is a wholeheartedly refreshing artist who stands far apart from most of the generic pop artists around at the moment. The Best is the opening track from her debut album Compliments Please which arrived this year. It’s a fast tempo, almost chant-like tune that’s had me moving for the whole summer. It’s also so feel-good and unashamedly confident. I saw Self Esteem perform it live twice this summer at Glastonbury and This Must Be The Place in Leeds, as the set closer. The Best has very much been The Best song of the summer.

Sam Stewart: Julia Michaels – Shouldn’t Have Said That

It’s rare that a song completely sums up a situation for you, but there are often specific lines that resonate. For me, this year (and this summer) has been an absolute rollercoaster. If you have ever argued (which, let’s face it, we all have) then this song will be relatable to you on some level. “I flip out at the small things, and you flip out ‘cause I’m flipping out” is a resentful feeling that most people will have felt at some point in a relationship. This is followed up with “I know I should say sorry. At the moment I meant it, but I shouldn’t have said it”. Who here hasn’t regretted saying something that they meant at the time? The beat and timbre of this essentially ‘sad song’ evokes bitter anger in the listener. Music that makes you feel is music that is worth listening to. That’s why this is a must-listen.

Angus Warrender – half•alive – arrow

With the release of half•alive’s debut album Now, Not Yet in August, I was spoiled for choice of great alt tracks to bob my head along to. But arrow, released back in January, has to take the cake for most head-bobbiest (yes, that is a word because I said so). Frontman Josh Taylor’s voice has a melodic quality that mixes well with the frenetic-yet-mellow tune of the song. I like something different about arrow every time I listen to it – like half•alive as a band; it’s getting better with every listen.

Ruth Walbank- Grace- Bess Atwell

I heard Bess Atwell at a festival this summer and was blown away by her beautiful voice and lyrics. She is soft and calming, just as good live as she is on record and precisely the kind of thing you want to listen to on a summers day. Her latest EP from this year ‘Big Blue’ has an acoustic tone, heartbreaking stories, and is well worth a listen.

Special mention: James – Sit Down


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