The AJR ‘Summerland’ playlist: 5 bops from the Met brothers

Noah Pasley

Monday not only marked the end of another month but the start of another occasion — a new song from the New York-based indie-pop trio known as AJR. The song is the band’s second single of 2020, following the 2019 debut of their album “Neotheater.”

Earlier this year, in the “before times” of the pandemic, AJR released their single “Bang!” The band’s most recent single, “Bummerland,” was released Monday, so in order to commemorate the new release, here are my favorite songs the band has produced as of yet.


1. “Karma”

This song has become a mainstay on my most-played songs since I first heard it in April this year. For one, the song has no problem maintaining AJR’s typically energetic persona with quickly-paced lyrics and a rhythmic beat. But above this, the song is seriously therapeutic, especially in an environment as troubled as this year.

Whether it’s the troubles of virtual learning or the isolation from friends and family, the song carries a painful tune for those who are trying so hard but are ultimately stuck in their heads waiting for the good things to come. The band also sings on the constant search for answers as they explore the “what’s wrong with me” mentality posed by their song.

2. “The Good Part”  

For a similar reason, “The Good Part” is among my favorite songs. Once again, this song remains on the introspective side but departs from the notion that to be introspective, a song must also be quiet and somber.

While the track is notably slower than most, it puts on an impressive display of emotion, using a swell of orchestral music and expressive background vocals. Of course, it holds a symbolic weight as well, as the brothers express their desires to truly “make it,” but they are burdened by the effort they must put forth first. 

3. “Turning Out” 

To me, this is the perfect growing-up anthem for our generation. With this slower song, AJR takes on the challenges of growing up and emerging as an adult, now having to navigate the world of love and romance. Of all the themes portrayed, the idea of “turning out,” of constantly growing and changing, is one that sticks with me most of all.

4. “Next Up Forever” 

This song is a new favorite of mine and thankfully performs with more of the band’s usual enthusiasm and excitement. Featuring a more upbeat tune than the others on this playlist, the song is filled to the brim with the idea of anticipation of the things to come.

More specifically, the Met brothers sing on the sort of adrenaline that comes from accomplishing big, new things. While this may not be a theme that particularly sticks with young college students, the song is surprisingly relatable, as the band dreads the idea of ever hitting their “peak.”

5. “Bummerland”

“Bummerland” pairs nicely with the enthusiasm posed by the group’s last single, “Bang!” released Feb. 12. With the newest single, AJR spins an introspective yet cheerful take on hitting rock bottom. Instead of the usual despair that follows shortcomings and failures, the band instead insists that they cannot wait to hit the bottom because it means there is nowhere left to go but up.

“Bummerland” also gives a goofy exchange on the ordinary, as Jack Met sings about his constant trips to the hair salon just for the human interaction. By far my favorite joke, however, is a line on going so broke that buying a beer looks heroic.

Noah Pasley can be reached at or on Twitter @PasleyNoah