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It was 82 degrees where I live on the day I wrote this, but the forecast is for highs in the 40s by the end of this week. Summer of 2011 is definitely a thing of the past in the northern hemisphere – the trees are shedding their leaves and the temperatures are preparing to embark on their inevitable march downwards. Snow flurries are just around the corner, at a distance now measured in weeks rather than months.
So perhaps we come to “Summer Jam” by New York City’s Cookies a little late in the year to know quite how it would have played in its titular season. Instead, now it simply conjures nostalgia for a season recently ended, whose sunny days and warm nights are now merely memories to recall as colder weather moves in on the northern half of the globe.
However, it’s entirely likely that mood of melancholy nostalgia is the same mood “Summer Jam” would’ve evoked even hearing it in July. It doesn’t seem to aim to be the soundtrack of any current summer, but instead is stitched together from pieces of summers past – a little early 1970s Philly soul, some early ‘80s hip-hop beats, and some mid-’90s Beck-style sonic collage. “Summer Jam” doesn’t feel so much like the summer of 2011 as it does every summer in the unreachable past.
The vocals on “Summer Jam” are courtesy of former Mobius Band member Ben Sterling and Melissa Metrick, and their harmonies on lines like “You’re the most beautiful thing / That I’ve ever seen” speak to the heady emotions of summer love, while the retro-’70s instrumental touches ground the whole thing in a vintage past, like looking at snapshots from the beach. Like those snapshots, “Summer Jam” reminds us that while summer is a fleeting moment each year, even as the leaves begin to fall it will still be there in memory.