The Atlantic Daily: 5 Summer Albums to Keep on Repeat

Big-name musicians are finally making albums again. We reviewed them, plus some indie records that are worth a listen.

A collage of musicians on a purple background
NME ; Interscope ; Universal Music New Zealand ; The Atlantic

Every weekday evening, our editors guide you through the biggest stories of the day, help you discover new ideas, and surprise you with moments of delight. Subscribe to get this delivered to your inbox.

For much of the pandemic, the music industry seemed to hold off on big releases—which left room for listeners to make some new discoveries. Then, this summer, a few marquee names came out of hibernation with great albums. Below are five records I’ve had on repeat at beach parties and barbecues:

Lorde, Solar Power

Pop’s onetime princess of disaffection has emerged from a long break to tout the joys of sunshine and family with sweet harmonies belted over acoustic instruments. Even though she sounds carefree, Lorde’s songwriting has deepened: Solar Power’s highlights, as I wrote in my review, graze masterpiece status.

Listen to:The Path,” “Secrets From a Girl (Who’s Seen It All),” and “Oceanic Feeling,” three of the best songs anyone has made this year

Skip: “The Man With the Axe,” an oddly ponderous love song

Tyler, the Creator, Call Me If You Get Lost

Here, one of America’s most inventive rappers combines two collage-like mediums: the hip-hop mixtape and the travel scrapbook. As DJ Drama plays hype man, Tyler’s sandpaper voice delivers jet-setting brags in chaotic, but catchy, mini-songs. Then, late in the album, Tyler shares a wrenching personal story at eight minutes in length.

Listen to: WUSYANAME,” Tyler’s amusingly gruff take on syrupy R&B

Skip: The repetitious interlude “Blessed” merits only one or two listens.

Billie Eilish, Happier Than Ever

She’s the teenager who conquered the pop world with spookiness, playfulness, and a mesmerizing quaver—and now Eilish wants to assert her seriousness and staying power. Her deceptively titled second album slinks through understated bops and torch songs about fame and betrayal, with dazzling production by her brother, Finneas. Settle in with dim lighting and a glass of something bitter.

Listen to: Oxytocin,” for a hit of that “Bad Guy” thrill

Skip: The lead single, “My Future,” takes too long to blossom.

Ninajirachi & Kota Banks, True North (Deluxe Edition)

This new Australian duo’s futuristic beats, bright melodies, and raunchy, multisyllabic lyrics can start a party anywhere. Even the blend of Eminem-style flow and Harry Potter references on single “Slytherin,” which should be cringeworthy, is explosive, thanks to these women’s wicked confidence.

Listen to:Secretive!,” a danceable tale of illicit romance that swings from tense to jubilant

Skip: The opener, “True North,” gives the false impression that only Charli XCX–style ballads lay ahead.

Yola, Stand for Myself

The British-turned-Tennessean singer Yola—who was nominated for Best New Artist at the 2020 Grammys—has a refreshing approach to soul and country that forgoes the smothering sense of reverence. Her new album even mocks inspirational clichés while still offering uplift. “Whoever said life was like a river that was gonna roll on forever,” she sings gently, “had to have been out of their mind.”

Listen to:Stand for Myself,” a ferocious anti-apathy testimonial that has Yola shouting by the end

Skip: The sweet but shambling “Be My Friend” takes a few listens to click.

A Sikorsky S-64 Skycrane helicopter operates above northwestern Athens, Greece, on August 18, 2021, after a wildfire hit the area.
(Angelos Tzortzinis / AFP / Getty)

Explore the week that was. Our senior editor Alan Taylor collected some of the best photography from the past seven days.

Read. It’s not too late to start a book from our summer reading guide. Or try a short story: We recommend “Something Something Alice Munro,” by Robert McGill.

In the mood for a poem? Read “Come In,” by Robert Frost, published in The Atlantic in 1941.

Watch. Annette, in theaters and available to stream on Amazon Prime Video, is a strange, beautiful movie about a puppet—but also about the nature of evil.

If you haven’t gotten around to the White Lotus finale, watch it this weekend, and then read our writer’s review.

Listen. We’ve got you covered on the music front. But if you’re looking to fit a podcast in between summer jams, we recommend The Experiment.

Find out what was really going in with those mysterious seeds Americans received in the mail last year. Or revisit a 1905 court case on government-mandated vaccines that resonates today.

Every weekday evening, our editors guide you through the biggest stories of the day, help you discover new ideas, and surprise you with moments of delight. Subscribe to get this delivered to your inbox.