Maybe it’s the lack of a ubiquitous crotch-affirming anthem a la “Get Lucky” this summer, but hasn’t the music released in the past few months felt a little, you know...flaccid? 
Such is the neutering toll of poptimism, the inevitable pushback against driveling hipsters, which has turned Coldplay from a bunch of saccharine try-hards into a band of inveterate everymen. 

I’ll be the first to defend Ariana Grande, but when Questlove (a member of The Roots, a record collector and a tastemaker) acknowledges the supremacy of Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” as the song of the summer, we need to take a cultural step backward. “Fancy” is not the best song of the summer. It’s not even the best song this summer to feature no-fucks given whilst chandelier-swin-ing—that honor would go to Sia’s high-flying single, “Chandelier.” 

At its best, the hegemony of poptimism leads to a torpid summer of forgettable music, epitomized by Calvin Harris’ unforgivably unimaginative “Summer.” At its worst, poptimism becomes a vehicle for whitewashing the Billboard charts, under the cynical aegis of “if you can’t beat ’em, appropriate ’em.” We need only look so far as poptimism’s main beneficiary, Taylor Swift, and the god-awful four minutes she tries to pass off as a song in “Shake It Off.” Turn down for racially insensitive stereotypes.

In the words of a rubbery legged Future Islands frontman, however, “seasons change.” With the chill of September, we leave behind this summer’s musical dysfunction (but hold onto that Spoon album) and throw ourselves into another semester at Bowdoin. Let us turn our flannel collars against autumnal winds and poptimist entreaties alike, with thoughts of Weird Al for #Ivies150 to keep us warm. Here are songs to soundtrack the introspection that a Maine fall brings.

“War on the East Coast” by The New Pornographers

Chugging power chords and a euphoric chorus are good indicators for a song vying for the summer title—except this is the New Pornographers, meaning Dan Bejar drawls about total war, sea level rise flooding British Columbia and “wild gypsy shit.” 
His impenetrable lyrics yield to the sort of hermeneutics you learn at small liberal arts colleges, so dust off those Lacan compendiums. My theory? It’s about the hopelessness of facing down the apocalypse. As for “blondes, brunettes, paper jets?” You try writing a better hook.

“Ultraviolence” by Lana Del Rey

The singer of the decade’s finest song proves she’s no one-hit wonder. Drawing on “Clockwork” and the Crystals, Lana pushes her is-it-satire schtick into the realm of physical abuse. It’s a dangerous game, but she pulls it off beautifully, turning from victim to menace with the swell of the violins. Lana flourishes on the fringe of camp where there is no black and white—only (fifty) shades of grey.

“Chambers” by Cymbals Eat Guitars

If ever a song is to get you to shout “baby’s got cataracts!” in the middle of HL, it’s this one. The bass line and sputtering guitar is enough to drive the song into your memory, but Joseph D’Agostino’s snotty narrative of drug withdrawal keeps it there. Getting high might not be what it used to be, but you wouldn’t believe it from his falsetto.

“You Know Me Well” by Sharon Van Etten

Much how Victoria Legrand stepped into her own with Beach House’s “Teen Dream” four (!) years ago, here Sharon Van Etten embraces her heart and her voice. The result is one of the year’s most devastating couplets, “you know me well / you show me hell,” made all the more poignant with the added sting of, “when I’m looking.” The song is full of such clever but affecting lines, as she implores her lover to “cut me to the chase,” or bellows the title, daring herself to believe it.

“Ancient Ways” by Interpol

Interpol’s Paul Banks remains the king of insufferably dense lyrics on the obviously titled new album “El Pintor.” But that just gives us more fodder for intellectual appraisal. Banks exhorts us to “fuck the ancient ways,” though of which ancient ways he disapproves remains up for debate. Certainly Intrepid’s well-cultivated angular guitar slash, atmospheric production and Joy Division aesthetic don’t need to go on the ancient burn pile.