There’s hope on the horizon for those of us emerging from lockdown, and with hot vaxxed summer ahead, there are reunions to plan. As with all get-togethers, you’ll want the perfect playlist to accompany your rollercoaster of emotions. Here are nine newish tracks to add to your next catch-up that’ll help set the mood.

hanbee, Buttercup
Buttercup is a breath of fresh air. It’s the latest track from New Zealand-based Korean indie-pop singer hanbee, and its feather-light, delicate sing-song melodies feel like the perfect pick-me-up track. Its message of staying true to yourself and being okay with feeling the way you feel also hits different after months of lockdowns. It’s the kind of song that takes up residence in your brain and has you humming it the next morning, too. Buttercup is the latest single off her new EP Meadow. hanbee says the song is about “accepting that we have our good and bad days, no one should have to shine all the time.”

Tia Gostelow, Valley Nights (feat. Sahara Beck & Hope D)
Sometimes the ideal summertime music is something you can get lost in – a track that seems like it washes over you. Valley Nights by singer-songwriter Tia Gostelow has the ability to do that on its tune alone. What really takes it to the next level are the buttery harmonies. There’s a gorgeous interplay between the voices of Gostelow, Sunshine Coast singer Sahara Beck and Brisbane’s Hope D on this light and lovely tune.

The Jungle Giants, Love Signs
Brisbane’s the Jungle Giants achieved their first number one album on the Aria charts earlier this year with Love Signs. The title track sounds especially tender coming from a Bluetooth speaker on a picnic rug under the warm sunshine. Over their decade-long career, the Jungle Giants have evolved from indie-rock to synth-fuelled electro, and Love Signs is all about that addictive chorus. Chuck it on for blissed-out ambiance.

Silk Sonic, Skate
Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak are mining the ’70s with their side project Silk Sonic. After the smooth jams of debut single Leave the Door Open their follow-up Skate is more upbeat, evoking that sweet combo of funk, disco and yacht rock. After living through an exceptionally tough couple of years, this kind of celebratory anthem is what we all need to lift our spirits. Besides, how can you resist the lyrics: “I can smell your sweet perfume / You smell better than a barbeque”?

I Know Leopard, Day 2 Day
The song lyrics are about the loss of a sense of self, which may not scream “social gathering” but I Know Leopard’s Day 2 Day has a piano loop that radiates warmth, and singer Luke O'Loughlin’s high-pitched vocals sound like the sun bursting through the clouds. All signs point to the synthpoppers releasing a second album in the coming months and, if Day 2 Day is anything to go by, it could soundtrack your whole social calendar this summer. Give it a spin.

LEISURE, Flipside
It can be difficult to put into words what exactly constitutes “groove,” but there’s no doubt that Auckland’s LEISURE has it in spades. Flipside is powered by a simple yet effective drum pattern and the chorus “Let me catch you on the flipside” is as honey-sweet as it is comforting. The group’s back catalogue is perfect for chilled-out hang-outs – yet it’s never dull. LEISURE has effortlessly melded electronica, R’n’B and soft rock yet again.

Years & Years, Starstruck (featuring Kylie Minogue)
Sometimes you want to turn it up a few notches, rather than chill out. Years & Years, fronted by British actor and performer Olly Alexander, has pulled off the ultimate coup by enlisting pop royalty Kylie Minogue for a reworking of the band’s ’21 release Starstruck. From the moment the track opens it’s a relentless celebration of hedonism that, once it bursts forth from the speakers, is impossible not to dance along to.

Kali Uchis, Telepatía
There’s a hazy feeling that runs through Telepatía – the shimmer and reverb of the keyboards gives us late-afternoon sunshine vibes. The song’s dual-language vocals (Spanish and English) inspired a Tiktok lip-sync challenge which brought it to a wider audience. Its dislocated, woozy vibes fit perfectly with losing yourself in the company of good friends. That said, the lyric “You know I’m just a flight away” is still a touch optimistic.

Usain Bolt & NJ, It’s a Party
In case you’re wondering what Olympian Usain Bolt has been up to since his sprinting and short-lived soccer career came to an end, here’s your answer. It’s a Party is exactly what you’d expect from Bolt’s public persona – it’s upbeat and breezy, and it has a reggae/dancehall sound that’s asking for you to dance. It’s not clear exactly what Bolt does in this song – his buddy and manager NJ handles all the vocals – but it hardly seems to matter. If nothing else, add it to your playlist as a topical discussion point, a future quiz night icebreaker, a fun fact. After all, you’re here for a good time.