Songs of Summer 2013
As the weather heats up and BBQs and beach parties become standard Saturday night activities, our winter playlists—dominated by moody, introspective indie rock—no longer seem appropriate or desirable. As much as we love Bon Iver, when the temperatures rise we crave light-hearted, energetic and unabashedly fun music. While being awarded the “song of the summer” has become a coveted, and profitable, designation—Vulture practically has its prediction of the next “Umbrella” or “Call Me Maybe” down to a science—we’re less concerned with Top 40 charts and instead favour tunes that set the perfect mood for evening cocktails on the patio. Here are a few new releases that are destined for our summer playlist:
Vampire Weekend, “Unbelievers,” from Modern Vampires of the City, May 2013
Vampire Weekend’s highly anticipated third album, Modern Vampires of the City, dropped a few weeks ago and while most fans seem enamoured with the first single, “Diane Young,” we’ve had the up-tempo “Unbelievers” on heavy rotation since we first listened to the record. While none of the songs on the album have as strong of a beach vibe as “Horchata” off of 2010’s Contra, “Unbelievers” comes closest to approximating the undeniably catchy melody and seductive beat that made “Horchata” such a gem. “Unbelievers” is the sort of song that immediately draws you in and encourages head bopping and foot stomping, yet this is far from a vacant pop song; the lyrics probe questions of love and religion and have a weightiness that belies the sheer poppiness of the tune.
Crystal Fighters, “LA Calling,” from Cave Rave, May 2013
Spanish electronic-pop group Crystal Fighters have just released their sophomore effort, Cave Rave, and it is just as infectious as their debut album. When listening to their music we’re perpetually left with the sense that the musicians are the life of the party wherever they go and that they innately know how to have a good time. The infinitely listenable and extremely catchy “LA Calling” is no exception; this song will inspire you to head straight to the beach with a cocktail in hand for an impromptu dance party. What distinguishes Crystal Fighters from your average bubblegum electro-pop band is its fusion of a Spanish flavour with an indie rock sensibility. The irresistible drum beats and catchy riffs sound decidedly tropical and while the lyrics may not be profound or innovative, it hardly matters when the music is this exuberant and fun.
Daft Punk, “Instant Crush,” from Random Access Memories, May 2013
With Pharrell’s signature falsetto carrying the melody, there is no avoiding Daft Punk’s epic jam “Get Lucky;” you can hardly turn on the radio these days without being immediately met with its infectious beat. While this song is well on its way to achieving “Umbrella” levels of success, we can’t stop listening to “Instant Crush,” an unexpected collaboration between the French electronic dance duo and Strokes’ front man Julian Casablancas. Less obvious than the crowd pleasing “Get Lucky,” “Instant Crush,” with Casablancas’ emotive vocals filtered through a vocoder, gets under your skin; it’s the sort of song that you’ll be thinking about, and humming, for days. On the surface it may appear to be an average electronic track with no greater intent than encouraging vigourous club dancing, yet this is electronica with a rock music edge, a compendium of disparate sounds that shouldn’t work but somehow do. It’s this musical complexity that makes “Instant Crush” so compelling.
Tegan and Sara, “Closer,” from Heartthrob, January 2013
Canadian indie darlings, Tegan and Sara, have been producing solid rock albums since the 1990s yet have finally achieved crossover success with their latest effort Heartthrob, released earlier this year. “Closer,” the electro pop hit that sounds more like a Kelly Clarkson or Katy Perry track—in the best possible way—is quite a departure for the duo. Devoid of the angst-ridden lyrics and guitar riffs that had been their signature, “Closer” details the intoxication and excitement of new love. The synth-driven song will brighten even the dreariest day and will make an excellent score for your next summer party.
For the Foxes, “Son of a Gun (We Have Fun),” May 2013
New Jersey rockers For the Foxes just dropped the new single, “Son of a Gun (We Have Fun),” a few days ago and we haven’t been able to get it out of our heads since. This is the perfect summer festival tune; with striking guitar riffs and melodic vocals detailing the pleasures of having fun, the upbeat track was made to be heard live amongst hoards of enthusiastic revelers. Lead singer Nick Dungo’s distinctive voice drives this up-tempo song and differentiates the tune from the host of other new indie-pop releases. If “Son of a Gun (We Have Fun)” is any indication of what we can expect from the rest of the album, For the Foxes may have composed one of the most irresistible records of the summer.