Just add (salt) water: 7 tunes for a perfect beach day

Caragh McErlean/File

Sandy toes, salty spray and sunburns: the true hallmarks of summer vacation. For road trips down the California coast and beach days that taste like pineapple and ocean air, this playlist encapsulates the summer vibes of laid-back leisure, set to ukulele strums and acoustic melodies.

“Let Her Go” — Mac DeMarco

With a blasé nonchalance, Canadian singer-songwriter Mac Demarco delivers this beachy tune, his long drawl accompanied by ukulele. In one of many great songs from his album Salad Days, DeMarco maintains his typical cool, probably donning a Hawaiian shirt and sipping a piña colada during the recording. Although obviously written about moving on from a relationship, feel free to imagine that he’s “letting go” of the stresses and obligations of the school year instead of a lover.

“Candy Wrappers” — Summer Salt

This song brings to mind one word: tropical. If the first few seconds were a candle, its scent would be called “Ocean Breeze” or “Hawaiian Paradise,” but it quickly transitions into mellow indie rock featuring saccharine lyrics. Lyrics such as “So for now, you’ll find me on the moon / I’ve got no lemon drops or bubblegum” playfully use candy as the only real metaphor for a broken heart — because Summer Salt knows the only thing better than a day in the sun is something sweet right afterward.

“Lover Boy” — Phum Viphurit

In an interview with TimeOut, Phum Viphurit described his songs as “sunshine music,” which perfectly captures their upbeat melodies and authentic lyrics. His biggest hit, with a music video that has amassed more than 7 million views, is “Lover Boy,” a cheery tune with soulful undertones. Sunshine gleams through the notes and words, with lyrics such as “Take me away, sunray.” The song draws influence from Viphurit’s upbringing in New Zealand, where the calm surroundings mixed with his creativity, inspiring much of his music. He brings this paradise to his songs, adding a touch of beachy flair.

“Sweet FA” — Peach Pit

Lazy sunbeams drip through the trees as the world exhales. This song perfectly conjures up summer, with the laid-back luxuries and unique beauty of sweaty shirts and watermelon stains. Peach Pit sings of new lust, musing, “I’ll couch my days, I’m gone in such a blaze of lazy love / And it’s turning me to scum.” It’s heartfelt, calming and a touch obsessive, like somebody who gets stuck in your head — not a bad summer mood.

“Saw You in a Dream” — The Japanese House

Like the hazy dream state you enter after finally sleeping in, “Saw You in a Dream” embodies the soothing nature of not having homework … or finals. The layered synth music of the Japanese House blends ambient and electro with finesse, and “Saw You in a Dream” is no exception. This song sounds like a river of melody, flowing like a stream of consciousness. Searching for solace from any stress, this song is a getaway in an MP3 file.

“Tungs” — The Frights

Not everyone can have their own Sandy Olsson or Danny Zuko, but there is always that summer hookup. The Frights capture summer flings, singing, “Do you think I’m cute? / Well it’s too late to check / And I don’t care / You got your tongue against my neck.” While most of its music skews toward indie rock, this track has more of a surfer rock feel with a heavy bassline. Hopefully after hearing this jam, you can say, “Summer lovin’ had me a blast.”

“Way It Goes” — Hippo Campus

In the alt-pop anthem for beach bums and summer shenanigans alike, Hippo Campus plays an easygoing tune, an ode to the quirky souls and the crazy kids, with a sunny backdrop of feel-good melodies. It celebrates laid-back lifestyles: “That’s the way it goes/ It’s so satisfying.” So grab a towel, lather on some sunscreen and blast these jams all the way to the beach.

Contact Casey Lane at [email protected].