8 Candidates For Album Of The Summer

Who's got the sound of your summer? Slap on the sunscreen for Esquire Weekly's guide to this year's albums for long days and light nights

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1 | FOR A COSMIC SUMMER: The Black Keys, Turn Blue (out 12 May)

Best for: Soulful open-top rides on the “Freeway” (translation: sitting in a tailback on the M11 while your EasyJet disappears into the clouds).

Looking for a little soul-searching with your man-rock? The soul-blues duo from Akron, Ohio take a turn for the introspective on this ninth album, with a splurge of psychedelic guitar and lo-fi spidery electronics from returning producer Danger Mouse. In place of their previous fuzzed-up freakouts it's all about languid melodies for the wide open road of the mind.

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LISTEN TO “Fever" 

 

2 | FOR A LOVERS' ROCKING SUMMER: Hollie Cook, Twice (out 12 May)

Best for: Enjoying a herbal smoking mixture at twilight or dancing with a policeman at the Notting Hill Carnival.

If you thought they didn't make blissful summer reggae like they used to, this one is for you. Daughter of Sex Pistols drummer Paul and a favourite of the Stone Roses, Ms Cook is West London pop royalty – she was mentored by the late Ari Up of punk gems The Slits, to whom this album is dedicated. Her light and subtle voice allies with the scrupulously 70s, bass-rumbling lover's rock sound of Brighton producer Prince Fatty and the results are both uptown *and* top ranking.

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LISTEN TO: “Desdemona”

 

3 | FOR AN HEROIC SUMMER: Gruff Rhys, American Interior (out 5 May)

Best for: Standing on cliffs on the Gower Peninsula at sundown, gazing towards the New World – and rage, raging against the dying of the light.

A prodigy of melody, Super Furry Animal Gruff Rhys would surely be acclaimed as our modern Brian Wilson if he wasn't Welsh (and thus apparently just too weird for the radio) and fond of outré excursions like this. Overflowing with scuffling, skiffling grooves and heart-filling soundscapes, <i>American Interior<i> hymns 18th century Welsh explorer John Evans's quest to find the lost Welsh-speaking tribe of Native Americans. A summer epic.

LISTEN TO: “American Interior”

 

4 | FOR A CHEEKY SUMMER: Lily Allen, Sheezus (out 5 May)

Best for: Watching your girlfriend and her mates take over your Bank Holiday barbecue, hammer the "lady petrol" and then screech into the small hours about how useless men are.

With the snarky young woman role now available in every flavour from extra bitter (Azealia Banks) to free trade (Lorde) to decaffeinated (Katy Perry) it falls to Lily Allen to do the grown-up double-strength version – and it suits her rather well. The Kanye-punning Sheezus substitutes shiny modern r'n'b and even squaredance tunes for her former London skankery, but the lyrics are still bitingly funny. She's at her best when crushing her online tormentors on “URL Badman”. "I don't like girls much, I think they're silly/Unless of course you want to play with my willy." We've had dadrock. Is mum-hop a thing yet? It is now.

LISTEN TO:  “Our Time”

 

5 | FOR A DARK, DARK SUMMER: The Horrors, Luminous (out 5 May)

Best for: Blasting out from your festival bivouac at 4am as the campfire embers die and the hills are alive with the seasonal whistle of nitrous oxide canisters.

The sight of the great British public out in its pasty, tattoo'ed, ale-gutted finery can make even the hardiest soul want to pull down the blinds and sit out the summer. Let Faris Badwan and his kohl-eyed cohorts bring on the black clouds with this exemplary fourth album full of exultant, saucer-eyed reveries – think Chemical Brothers meet Velvet Underground times Bunnymen – and space-rock crescendos.

LISTEN TO: “I See You”

 

6 | FOR A HIPSTER SUMMER: Tune-Yards, Nikki Nack (out 5 May)

Best for: Wobbling down Dalston Lane on your unicycle as the breeze gently tousles your triple-decker handlebar moustache.

One-woman quirk-pop orchestra Merrill Garbus has the full suite of modern twee attributes (former puppeteer and ukelele player, lots of clapping on her songs, spells her band's name tUnE-yArDs and we're not going *there*). But there's enough kitchen-sink invention and self-deprecating humour in her guileless, optimistic Afro-indie-Etsy tunes to win over the moodiest listener. She's rather an impressive blues-belter singer too. Lighten up, lose your inhibitions, knit a cupcake for your pet owl and join in.

LISTEN TO: “Water Fountain”
 


7 | FOR A NOCTURNAL SUMMER: Coldplay, Ghost Stories (out 19 May)

Best for: Getting a bit overwrought on the longest night of the year, talking about your emotional state with your best buddy… then making a silent mutual agreement never to speak of this again.

Leaving aside the gossip-rag tedium of Chris Martin's breakup with Gwyneth Paltrow, you have to admit that Coldplay are the current world champions of putting big feelings to big soundtracks. Shrouded from leaks like the most porous of hip hop records, this sixth album promises a less grandiose, more intimate experience than Mylo Xyloto – trailer tracks “Magic” and “Midnight” have a frosty new electronic patina.

LISTEN TO “Midnight”
 

 

8 | FOR AN OUTDOORSY NORDIC SUMMER: Lykke Li, Never Learn (out 5 May)

Best for: Greeting the dawn by dancing naked around a bonfire next to a fjord with the people whose commune you're crashing in.

The third record from statuesque Swede Lykke Li is a breakup album recorded in Los Angeles, but its spacious melodies and elegant heartbreak are redolent of open spaces, pine forests and the new beginnings. It's a modern pop phenomenon that women – St Vincent, Cat Power, Joan As Policewoman – are better at articulating matters of the heart than most male performers, and so is Lykke Li. As drums and tambourines clatter Phil Spector-style, she makes love gone wrong feel like a delicious catastrophe.

LISTEN TO: “No Rest For the Wicked”

 

This article was taken From Esquire Weekly, ourcompletely original iPad edition. Download the current issue here

 

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