While last week, our collection of songs came from the era of classic rock, this week, we’ll be pulling from electronic music. I’ll be keeping away from dubstep and other instrumental sub-genres, and instead focusing on songs that feature a heavy use of synth and other electronic techniques in their production. That’s a deep well to draw from, but it at least keeps us a bit more focused.
Today, our song is “Summertime Clothes”, by Animal Collective. It definitely fits in the genre of electronic music, but also into the sub-genres of psychedelic, experimental pop, and indie.
“Summertime Clothes” was a single, and the fourth track on Animal Collective’s eighth album, “Merriweather Post Pavilion”, which came out in 2009. According to Metacritic, the album was in the top ten of best, most discussed, and most shared albums of the year.
“Summertime Clothes” portrays an intense romance during the dog days of summer. The use of distorted, pulsing synths pushes the song forward, along with the four-on-the floor drum beat. This gives it a rough, hypnotic texture that fits the tone of enduring an intense heat wave.
The use of imagery in the song is expertly placed, and contains some of my favorite lines in the whole album. In just the first few lines, the lyrics capture an unbearably hot summer night perfectly.
“Sweet summer night and I’m stripped to my sheets / Forehead is leaking, my AC squeaks and / A voice from the clock says, “You’re not gonna get tired” / My bed is a pool and the walls are on fire”.
The hypnotic and heady verses give way to a sweet and refreshing chorus. It most notably stands out when the higher-registered tone of the lead vocals kicks in. These are accompanied by tinkling synth arpeggios and a clattering of percussive noise. All of this noise might not work as well with a more complex melody. But the chorus itself is simple, and fits nicely in this arrangement.
“And we’ll greet the dawn in its morning blues / With purple yawn, you’ll be sleeping soon / And I want to walk around with you / And I want to walk around with you”.
The woven sonic landscape, evocative lyrics, and simple melodic hooks make “Summertime Clothes” one of my favorite Animal Collective songs. And even though we’re in the middle of winter, listening to this again brings the heat of summer to the front of my mind.
For the rest of the week, I’ll try and grab other electronic songs that share different sub-genres for the sake of variety. And maybe also one with a less weird music video. Maybe.