Summertime synth: Albums to carry you through summer 2019

Carly Rae Jepsen, Steve Lacy throw it back and offer quality records

The Spectrum

Sometimes you need a little more than a summer anthem.

That’s when Steve Lacy makes an entire album of them.

This summer’s album drops have been anything but cold, with soon-to-be-classic records coming from the likes of Tyler, the Creator and Carly Rae Jepsen. Summer is just beginning so there should be a lot more heat on the way, but in the scenario that there isn’t, these records should get you through.

“IGOR” - Tyler, the Creator      Score: 9/10

"Igor" - Tyler, the Creator

No artist has mastered musical progression each album quite like Tyler, the Creator has.

Tyler was once the raunchiest rapper in the game and the face of a massive hip hop collective, pushing, quite literally, a movement back in 2011/12. Now he’s the funkiest in the game and using his platform to defy norms in hip hop. He has proven himself time and time again as a musical force, and this last record is the closest thing he’s made to a masterpiece yet.

“IGOR” is a summertime collection of self-produced, self-arranged, self-perfected tracks. It’s hard to confine this album to a single genre, or even a genre at all, as it's anything but rap from someone who once thrived on a lyric-first approach to music. The album features heavyweights in hip-hop and R&B, names ranging from Solange to Playboi Carti. 

There’s nothing out now as bright and vibrant in 2019, and certainly no breakup album has ever been. Tyler draws influence from artists like Pharrell and Kanye West, fusing some Neptunes and “Graduation”-inspired tracks together to give his listeners an album that perfectly conveys the journey of heartbreak and exactly how good it can really feel.

Also, “I THINK” is the anthem of summer 2019. It doesn’t get any better than that one. 

“Apollo XXI” - Steve Lacy      Score: 9/10

"Apollo XXI" - Steve Lacy

It’s been an interesting summer.

Steve Lacy, in all his glory, turned me down for a photo at Governors Ball. Any musician who ever brushes me off usually loses my money immediately after, but not Lacy.

I will invest everything I have into this funky riff master until I have no more. Lacy is an absolute treasure, and his new record “Apollo XXI” is the most melodic, smooth collection of tracks to come out of the Los Angeles music scene this year.

While his last Internet project, “Hive Mind,” didn’t quite see as much traction as it should have, Lacy might be more poised for solo stardom. Tracks like “Playground” off the new album channel Prince-esque melodies. And, even at the age of 21, Lacy proves he can easily pull listeners in with an incomparable lure that most at his age couldn’t fathom having.

Even track “Hate CD” finds itself in your head at all times of the day. There’s something about this album that latches onto listeners and doesn’t let go until, quite possibly, an alternate universe appears where Steve Lacy doesn’t exist. 

But let’s hope that universe never does.

“Dedicated” - Carly Rae Jepsen     Score: 7/10

"Dedicated" - Carly Rae Jepsen

If you want your summer 2019 to be anything like summer 1987, you’ll love Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Dedicated.”

Jepsen, four years after the magic of her critically acclaimed “Emotion,” returned early this summer with a synthy pop album to carry listeners through the season. The record perfectly encapsulates the basslines, synth and melodies of the late ‘80s, and it feels either way too ahead of its time, or way too behind the times, in a good way.

It’s hard to believe Jepsen isn’t holding pop music in the palm of her hands, but somehow her recent work has still managed to push the boundaries of throwbacks. Where most modern pop stars would give you a taste of ‘80s, Jepsen takes it to another level and makes sure her records are concise and refreshing from start to finish.

Tracks “Want You In My Room” and “Everything He Needs,” both complete with whatever vocoder effect Jepsen tinkers with, transport you to a completely different time and prove to be album highlights. But regardless of what time this record takes you to, listening to it now will hopefully permanently embed it in your memories of summer 2019.

“Ventura” - Anderson .Paak     Score: 8/10

"Ventura" - Anderson .Paak

There was once a time when Smokey Robinson, Brandy and André 3000 had nothing in common. It was a terrible time, to be honest.

But those were the days before Anderson .Paak.

.Paak came onto the scene, balanced being a percussive superhero and a funk guru and somehow found a way to put out one of the hottest records to carry listeners from April through August, “Ventura.”

The album, which comes not too long after .Paak’s critically acclaimed “Oxnard,” brings together some of hip hop and soul’s greatest of the past and forces them to all compete at a level only .Paak can win at. 

Album highlight “Reachin’ 2 Much,” with its smooth breakdown halfway through, carries listeners as high up as they can go and doesn’t release them. And Pharrell-produced “Twilight” brings a little extra magic to the David Blaine of summer albums.

Even one song in and hearing André 3000’s rare appearance on opener “Come Home” is enough to call this the perfect seasonal record.

EDITORS NOTE: The Spectrum's album grading system is now based on a 1-10 scale.

Brenton Blanchet is the Editor-in-Chief and can be reached at and on Twitter @BrentonBlanchet


Brenton J. Blanchet is the 2019-20 editor-in-chief of The Spectrum. His work has appeared in Billboard, Clash Magazine, DJBooth, PopCrush, The Face and more. Ask him about Mariah Carey.