For a lot of people, summer is defined by upbeat party songs or airy acoustics. It works well on the sunniest days, spending hours laying in the sand and driving with the windows all the way down. But I'm a firm believer that on summer nights, everything slows down. Time passes a little hazier, and sunsets seem to last a little bit longer. This playlist captures every moment of a beautiful summer sunset, from the deepest blues to the brightest oranges.
"Simple Season" - Hippo Campus
2017 has been the year of Hippo Campus, and for good reason. These Twin Cities indie heartthrobs know exactly how to turn stories of sepia-toned summer nostalgia into the catchiest songs ever. "Simple Season" is everything you love about a summer night, rolled into three minutes of shimmering guitar and poetic lyrics. Whether you're stargazing on the roof of your car, or curled up around a bonfire with your closest friends, this song is the perfect soundtrack.
"Cannons" - Youth Lagoon
When Youth Lagoon disbanded last year, singer Trevor Powers said he documented everything through music: "the peace, the chaos, the creation, the destruction, the life, the eternal sleep." With its gentle beat and dissonant vocals, "Cannons" captures each one of those feelings. The simplicity of this song makes it that much more pleasant. Youth Lagoon finds beauty in the pain of the end, and what's more beautiful than the end of the day?
"Cold Night (Dirge Version)" - Yeasayer
A dirge isn't what most people would consider a ‘song of the summer,' since it's typically played at a funeral. Yeasayer put a vulnerable, mournful spin on the original version of "Cold Night," which is a mid-tempo indie rock bop. There's something about the mellow dirge that gives the song an entirely different atmosphere. If you're in the mood to sit back and reflect on the day you're leaving behind, this is the only song you need to hear.
"Blue Moon" - Beck
There's a reason Beck's Morning Phase
won Album of the Year over Beyonce (sorry, Bey Hive). It acts as a companion piece to Beck's 2002 record Sea of Change,
and time was definitely on Beck's side. "
Blue Moon" feels wiser and stronger, with a melody that is mellow but also determined. It's lush and light, as hypnotizing as watching a golden sunset.
"Michicant" - Bon Iver
Justin Vernon's sophomore project as Bon Iver is a significant departure from the minimalist folk of For Emma, Forever Ago
, but the essential Bon Iver qualities still shine through. "Michicant" is a sprawling standout from the eponymous second record, complete with saccharine verses and delicate vocals. There aren't many artists who construct sounds the way Bon Iver does - dim and limited at first, but then all-encompassing.
"Downtown" - Majical Cloudz
This Canadian pop duo specializes in making melancholy sound beautiful. "Downtown" appears on the band's fourth and final record, Are You Alone?,
and is the perfect culmination of the band's musical project. The spacious melody seems monochromatic, but eventually the song turns into a vibrant masterpiece. Somehow this song is both incredibly sad and incredibly romantic, but it feels especially soothing after a long day in the summer sun.
"Swept Away" - The xx
The xx are modern dream pop royalty - they truly have a song for every mood. Their 2011 record Coexist
saw the band at their peak, with just enough of a club music influence to amplify their sometimes sparse trademark sound. Like all the best xx tracks, "Swept Away" relies on dreamy harmonies and iridescent melodies. Even though they literally have a song called "Sunset," the masterful restraint of "Swept Away" feels more fitting.
"Cloud Speed" - Sad Souls
Sometimes, instrumental songs suit a moment better than anything else ever could. As the colors start to fade from the sky, "Cloud Speed" feels like a warm, welcoming transition into the nighttime. This song is as peaceful as it gets - no distracting production frills, and no frustrating lyrical interpretations.
"Color Song" - Maggie Rogers
Maggie Rogers is unlike anyone you've ever heard. Her traditional folk background seems far from her current electro-pop hits, but there's always a natural element to her work. "Color Song" is hauntingly beautiful, with little to support Rogers' voice but chirping crickets and her own echo. It had to be the final song on this list with these opening lines: "Now that the light is fading, silver and purple at twilight / scenes of the day remain with us, bright as the fire is burning bright."