While Culture Abuse would no doubt balk at the idea of 2 years of work being distilled down to a single rhyming couplet, Bay Dream can be summed up by one line from the song ‘California Speedball’: “Let me lay out in the sun/Smoke some weed with everyone.”

From its cover art – evoking the kind of Global Hypercolor tees worn by stoners in 90s high school movies – through its consistently laid-back pace, to its mid-June release date, Bay Dream is the archetypal summer album. Having exorcised some not-inconsiderable demons on more aggressive debut Peach, Culture Abuse surprised a lot of people by following it up with the soundtrack to the sun setting over an outdoor party, where everyone’s so relaxed they don’t even mind that some prick showed up with an acoustic guitar. In fact, they can even join in so long as they’re happy with 90s alt-rock nostalgia which – consciously or otherwise – evokes everything from Weezer to early Fountains of Wayne.

At this point, I should declare a personal interest in a summer album with a distinctly 420-friendly vibe. Bay Dream dropped about a month after I moved to Amsterdam at the start of a 4-month heatwave. It’s been the soundtrack to my sweat-saturated exploration of a city whose tourist population look as glazed and couch-locked as the fuzzy guitars and euphoric melodies feel.

All of which would be meaningless if the songs weren’t so damn good. At just 32 minutes long, Bay Dream passes by in a heartbeat and gets better with each listen. Every song is so good that as you’re listening to it for the 20th time, you still find yourself surprised by at least one song: “Oh yeah, this one’s brilliant too.” Every chorus is a low-key anthem, binding itself to your neural pathways until you’re singing them out loud, constantly (and often embarrassingly).

If you’re feeling down, Bay Dream will cheer you up. If you’re feeling happy, it will augment your mood. And as the winter nights roll in, it’s an aural blanket that reminds you that summer is only around the corner.

  1. Spanish Love Songs – Schmaltz
  2. Culture Abuse – Bay Dream
  3. Nervus – Everything Dies
  4. The Dirty Nil – Master Volume
  5. Thrice – Palms
  6. Joyce Manor – Million Dollars to Kill Me
  7. Turnstile – Time & Space
  8. Ghost – Prequelle
  9. Trophy Eyes – The American Dream
  10. Panic! At The Disco – Pray For The Wicked