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Indie Pop-Rock Songs That Will Make You Feel Like You’re in a Movie All Summer Long

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCLA chapter.

There’s nothing better than listening to songs that feel like summer: guitar riffs feel like the sun on your skin and drum beats sound like crashing ocean waves. The lyrics are worthy of being screamed in the car on a summer road trip, or written into the sand at the beach with your finger. For music fans who crave an upbeat sound and lyrics that feel straight out of a coming-of-age movie, Indie pop-rock is the ultimate summertime genre. Here are the best indie pop-rock songs you don’t want to leave out from your playlists this summer.

“Never Need Me” by Rachel Chinouriri

“You’re addicted to trouble you choose / I’m surprised you’re even confused / I know you’ll never learn / What the hell am I supposed to do? / If you can’t change, I doubt that I can help you.”

Rachel Chinouriri’s debut album, What a Devastating Turn of Events, is an electric arrival to the indie pop-rock scene, and offers sincere perspectives on Black working-class life. In the album’s energetic lead single “Never Need Me,” she bids farewell to a former lover and their endless cycle of self-destruction. Paired with vibrant vocals and instrumentation build-up, “Never Need Me” musically represents unclipping your wings and finally speaking your mind. It’s a poolside best friend for everyone wanting to start the new summer season without the deadweight of the colder months’ baggage.

“25” by Alix Page

“So I got a tattoo, burned up on the freeway / My mom told me I seem happier these days / Your name’s getting sour / It wasn’t supposed to / Always such a sweetheart ‘til someone adores you.”

Alix Page is an indie rock powerhouse. From her debut single “Stripes” to her latest “Goose” EP, Alix’s music personifies hometown nostalgia and the reluctance to grow up. Her summertime standout is “25,” an escalating acoustic-to-electric track fit for throwing your hands up in a convertible as you drift along the coast. It deals with the ache of letting someone go and the unexpected truth that wounds heal with time.

“American Teenager” by Ethel Cain

“I do it for my daddy and I do it for Dale / I’m doing what I want and damn I’m doing it well / For me.”

Behind the character Ethel Cain, artist Hayden Anhedönia is the storyteller of our generation. Her debut album, Preacher’s Daughter, tells the chronological story of the young woman Ethel Cain who runs away from her southern hometown in search of personal freedom, only to face a gruesome end. While the album largely takes a darker alternative sound, “American Teenager” experiments with synth-pop to depict Ethel’s naivety, and how she stands at a crossroads with her obligation and her need for freedom. With an explosive chorus and lyrics searing enough to scream-cry, “American Teenager” is the ultimate coming-of-age cry for freedom: the hope that when everything hurts, your youth will save you.

“Girls Make Me Wanna Die” by The Aces

“I don’t know when I fell / She doesn’t know as well / On a beautiful Sunday / We’re laying in sun rays / She’s wearing my beat-up jean jacket so damn well.”

I’ve Loved You For So Long, the 2023 album by The Aces, is a masterclass in music that sounds how watching a coming-of-age movie feels. It’s rose-colored and nostalgic, and simultaneously comforting and aching. Its peak track for childhood summertime feels is “Girls Make Me Wanna Die,” which is a fictionalized culmination of the band’s first love stories as queer youth. They describe it as “desperate and full of youth,” and produced the song to recreate the sound of band kids jamming out in a basement.

This summer, feeling your best starts with listening to the best. Whether your sunny weather go-to is a jam session with The Aces or a road trip singalong to Rachel Chinouriri, indie pop-rock is the sound of the summer.

Hanna is an English major at UCLA, from Los Angeles, California. She loves traveling, attending concerts, and writing about her favorite music.