Sounds of the Summer 2022
Updated: Mar 22
Some songs just feel like ocean waves, warm breezes, and good vibes. Here's what WSOE staff had on repeat this summer.
Summer is never complete without the perfect playlist to help create memories that last a lifetime. So which artist took up the most time on my perfect summer playlist? That’s an easy one: “Growin’ Up” by country rockstar, Luke Combs. Combs was born in Charlotte, North Carolina as an only child. Combs was born with performing in his blood, as he has been singing since childhood. Combs’s very first four singles all hit No. 1 on the radio launching his soon to be legendary career. “Growin’ Up” was released on June 24th, 2022, and quickly became my album on repeat this summer. Whether you spend your summers tanning at the beach, swimming in the lake, hiking up the mountains, or in laying your bedroom, “Growin’ Up” is an album you can blast and enjoy with family and friends no matter where you are. The two songs you can never go wrong with on the album include “The Kind of Love We Make” and “Better Back When.” As a personal favorite, “The Kind of Love We Make” immediately grabbed my attention with its smooth intro chords on the electric guitar. With a spunky rock n’ roll edge to the country song, Combs embodies a true legendary tone and presence that can be felt throughout its entirety. “Better Back When” then takes a turn with a more country-like, nostalgic vibe that highlights the importance of making memories whilst growing up. To me, this is what his album is all about: Enjoying the glory days of your adolescent and carrying them throughout your life no matter how old you may get. In essence, this album fits into the perfect summer vibe of making memories surrounded by those you love most in life and having a blast while doing it. Combs’s music is all about relaxing, having fun, and melodically sharing experiences with others in hopes to make them feel as good as he did while performing and creating them. And with this album, he did just that.
Best Tracks: “The Kind of Love We Make”, “Tomorrow Me”, “Better Back When”, “Going, Going, Gone” and “Doin’ This.”
Del Water Gap
Are you looking for an album that reflects your avoidant attachment style and gives dimly lit room vibes, sexual tension, and some of the best instrumentals in the current indie pop scene? Del Water Gap has you covered. Del Water Gap is a solo music project created by songwriter and producer, Samuel Holden Jaffe, who produced songs from another record of the summer – Surrender by Maggie Rogers. I actually discovered Del Water Gap through the collaboration he did with Rogers on her 2020 compilation album, Notes from the Archive: Recordings 2011–2016. It took a couple listens but I fell in love with Jaffe’s soft voice on New Song, so imagine my surprise when I listen to his self-titled debut album, Del Water Gap, for the first time and encounter songs like Better Than I Know Myself and Ode to a Conversation Stuck in Your Throat, with mega upbeat tempos, explosive guitars and synths, and lyrics about being scared of love but also not wanting anyone to touch his lover like he does (the latter is basically a lyric pulled straight from Ode). Despite my expectations being completely altered, I enjoyed the album, first listening to it in the springtime but really growing to love it as a whole over the summer. Del Water Gap is a douchebag album. It is the epitome of a man loving a woman so much to the point of being scared by it. But at the same time – in Perfume – he wants to see her naked, wearing nothing but perfume. In the heartbreaking, downtempo song, It’s Not Fair !, he acknowledges that he did something wrong in a past relationship but still misses her and thinks it’s not fair that she left him. Ultimate Douchebag Water Gap behavior. Despite all this weirdness, I fucking love this album. I love the rancid, shitty situationship vibes it gives off. It’s as dark and hopeless as the album cover of Jaffe falling into the void. It’s definitely not a super summery upbeat pop album, but it’s an album I had on repeat this summer as I rotted away in my bedroom every night wishing I was back at Elon.
Calvin Harris’ follow-up album to the original Funk Wav Bounces comes five years after the first, and just in time to make everyone’s summer a little more musical. Released on August 5 earlier this year, Volume 2 features just as many big-name artists as the first album and brings the same carefree summer vibes that Harris introduced in 2017. While not every song is a hit, the star power of the record alone is enough to carry the best tracks to the top of a pool party playlist. The funk/disco-inspired sound works perfectly in setting the stage for each featured artist to add their own creativity. Each track can blend into each other, which is not a bad thing in creating a cohesive sound for the album, but it does leave the project feeling stagnant aside from the standout tracks.
And speaking of those remarkable hits, the pre-released single “New Money” with 21 Savage was what first caught my attention for this record. While beachy pop beats are far from 21 Savage’s usual sound, the Atlanta rapper is able to perfectly balance his signature aggressive lyrics with a more upbeat and mainstream instrumental. This mesh of multiple genres and artists are perhaps Harris’ strong point on Volume 2. This variety is showcased through Dua Lipa and Young Thug on the flirtatious and bubbly radio track, “Potion”.
Obviously, this isn’t a lyrically dense or thought-provoking album that you can dissect across multiple listens. But who needs all that, this is summer! If dance beats and hit names catch your attention, then Calvin Harris’s Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 2 is worth a listen to reminisce on summer night parties.
Best Tracks: "New Money," "Potion," and "Day One"
There’s no better feeling than laying out in the sand on a beach you live five minutes away from, blasting music out of a speaker you bought from the Verizon store that has lasted you five years, and suddenly hearing a little kid out of that speaker saying, “Dec, what do you think about the car? Do you like it?” Humongous is the first song off of English singer/songwriter, Declan McKenna’s 2017 debut album What Do You Think About The Car? It’s one of the greatest intro songs in indie rock culture, yet I find that it gets widely overlooked. For what reason? I’m not sure, but this song is a summer masterpiece. After the kid stops inquiring about liking cars, McKenna begins the song, singing calmly with a pretty melody. But with the quick question of “Do you care?,” the chorus arrives quickly and powerfully, because the drum beat picks up and suddenly McKenna is screaming-singing the earworm of a chorus, “I’m big, humongous, enormous and small, and it’s not fair that I am nothing and nobody’s there. Do you care?” Everytime this chorus comes on I want to jump around like a little kid and scream the lyrics at the top of my lungs, not caring that other people are sitting on the beach staring. But the song gets even better from there because after McKenna shreds it on guitar, the song does a complete 180. The tempo quickens, hard-hitting synths kick in, and a new melody comes in. The song ends with McKenna giving a sassy, borderline spoken-word statement, “You think you're funny when you're talking all loud and your nose is all runny,” and the synths from before. This dynamic, upbeat anthem was my obsession for the last month of an otherwise subpar summer. I remember listening to this song and sitting at the shoreline, letting the waves crash into me. The chorus would come on and I would not be able to control my smile. I think I connected with this song on a transcendental level because of how much I relate to the idea of feeling invisible no matter how I present myself – as humongous, enormous or small. In the song, McKenna seemed to struggle with that on top of dealing with a lover who didn’t respect him. It’s a song of endurance. But what I gather after listening to this song is that to the right people, you will always be an important sight.
There is no artist more inescapable right now than Harry Styles. Whether it’s the silver screen, the small screen of TikTok, or any commercial within the past three months, 2022 cemented Styles’ place in history as a true star. With Harry’s House, Styles stepped into his most confident, genuine self, baring his soul through shockingly self-aware lyrics backed with the 80’s influences he’s touted his whole career.
The album opens with the raucous "Music for a Sushi Restaurant," a song filled with horns and the unadulterated joy that’s carried through the first half of the album by songs like "Late Night Talking" and "Grapejuice." The second half of Harry’s House takes a more melancholy turn at "As It Was," and ebbs and flows as the album transitions between vulnerable ballads like "Matilda" and "Little Freak" and high-energy songs like "Daydreaming" and "Cinema."
Although the sound of Harry’s House fluctuates a lot, it’s never out of place or jarring. Everything feels in place and intentional. Styles knows who he is, good and bad, and is unafraid to share all of it. Every song on the album feels like a piece of his true self.
As he reaches the peak of his stardom and branches into other projects like film, Harry’s House serves as a reminder that Harry Styles is a seasoned musician with bravado and presence like no other.
Father John Misty
As much as I wanted to put Black Midi’s Hellfire somewhere in this list, I think that wouldn’t really work with the summer aesthetic. Maybe a summer in Hell? Anyway, another album that I had on repeat this summer was Chloe and the Next 20th Century by Father John Misty. Father John Misty (a.k.a. Joshua Tillman, the former drummer for Fleet Foxes) has repeatedly produced high quality studio albums, and Chloe is no different. FJM is renowned for his lyrics and songwriting, which often dwell on topics such as society, capitalism, and the human condition. Chloe offers a sort of distant feeling chamber pop aesthetic, with many of the songs taking inspiration from jazz or big band music. FJM tours with an orchestra’s worth of musicians to create this sound. Despite the grand scale of the music, the lyrics bleed through in a way that captures the mood of the music perfectly and enhances the overall experience. Ballads such as Goodbye Mr. Blue exemplify heartbreak, and the anthemic Buddy’s Rendezvous is a classically haunting piece that echoes in the listener’s mind. Lana del Ray covered the latter song, and in my opinion, it is the definitive version. There’s also (one of) the title tracks, Chloe, which is reminiscent of a gleefully depressing show tune. If I have one gripe with the album, it would be that it doesn’t delve as deep as Father John Misty’s previous work. Part of what made Pure Comedy an instant classic was the unapologetic and harsh criticism of society and capitalism, which do appear in Chloe, but in much lighter tones. Although it might not be Father John Misty’s best album, there’s a little bit for everyone here, and you should check it out the next time you’re feeling like some good, old-fashioned chamber pop.