Spread out the beach towel or spark up the grill: Summer playlists should move you whether you’re sunbathing in South Beach, setting out on a road trip, or splashed down on your oversize pool float at home. We combed a year of releases for a breezy mix of slinky beats and bass lines with just the right amount of sheen and shamelessness that summer’s last weekend entails. From electropop newcomers Sylvan Esso and Damon Albarn’s latest under his Gorillaz alias to Arcade Fire’s disco nostalgia and extraterrestrial hip-hop from Seattle’s Shabazz Palaces, the tracks below stand well as a set and mix easily into heavy rotations of your own.
“Don’t forget where you came from,” Beck sings in this stuttering track that proves, surprisingly, you can build a summer jam on a flute hook. The teaser single for his long-delayed follow up to the Grammy winning, folk-county album Morning Phase finds him in top form with the slack-rap that launched his career.
“Life Itself,” Glass Animals
The lead single for their latest album from Oxford, England, indie-rockers bubbles along with a more percussive drive than previous releases.
“She’s My Collar,” Gorillaz
Damon Albarn teams up with Kali Uchis for the dark, sexy, album highlight that’s hard to get out of your head.
“Feel It Still,” Portugal. The Man
Portland’s experimental rockers find their breakout formula with handclaps, a touch of swagger, and a poppy retro groove produced by Danger Mouse.
“Just Dancing,” Sylvan Esso
It’s hard to pick a favorite off Sylvan Esso’s latest round of smart, catchy electropop, but Amelia Meth’s cheeky take on Tinder dating builds so euphorically that when it finally lets go it’s bound to bring a smile to your face.
“Everything Now,” Arcade Fire
Arcade Fire has always been a go-big-or-go-home band. This rock-disco single off their new album has festival main-stage encore written all over it – they even built in the crescendo of crowd chants.
Blake Madden moonlights in a Prince tribute band, an influence that definitely shows in this brooding song that’s something of a cross between Nick Cave and the Purple One.
“Light It Up,” Pickwick
A surprising departure from their sound, the quintet’s latest hit heats things up with a haunted organ, Bee Gees-like falsetto, and a guitar that oscillates between slinky distortion and disco fills.
“Shine a Light,” Shabazz Palaces
“Shine a light on the fake” the chorus pleads on this woozy AutoTuned number that shimmers like low-slung sunrays on a bay – an apt closer for this year’s summer.