For Sergio Niblett-Morales, Sufjan Stevens' song 'Futile Devices' epitomises autumnGarrison Reid / Flickr

As autumn arrives, those songs we’ve had on repeat all summer are starting to feel overplayed. Leaves are falling, the air is getting colder and another year at Cambridge is beginning. Musically, our attentions are turning towards the soft, cosy, folksy end of the spectrum. Whether you’re a fresher seeking a song about new beginnings or a seasoned Cantabrigian needing an accompaniment to your walk back from a supervision in the darkness of the afternoon, this playlist has you covered.

Sergio Niblett-Morales: Sufjan Stevens – ‘Futile Devices’

Written in 2010 but re-popularised in 2017 thanks to the film Call Me By Your Name, ‘Futile Devices’ by Sufjan Stevens epitomises autumn for me. Stevens sings about his inability to verbalise how much he loves his partner because “words are futile devices”. With gently plucked guitar and soft vocals, the song creates a cosy atmosphere that is perfect for when the leaves start to fall and the days begin to shorten.

Alex Brian: Wolf Alice – ‘Safe from Heartbreak (If You Never Fall in Love)’

When it comes to Autumnal songs, you need not look any further than Wolf AliceYouTube (Wolf Alice)

Anyone who knows me won’t be surprised to see Wolf Alice on this list. However, when it comes to autumnal songs, you need not look any further. ‘Safe from Heartbreak (If You Never Fall in Love)’ appeared on their 2021 album Blue Weekend, providing a gentle interlude after the raging anger of ‘Smile’. Its tenderly plucked guitars and lush vocal harmonies – especially once frontwoman Ellie Rowsell is joined by drummer Joel Amey – not only encapsulate this season, but perfectly mirror Rowsell’s resignation towards love.

Sam Raine-Jenkins: White Stripes – ‘We’re Going to Be Friends’

Autumn is a time of new beginnings, especially for students starting university or school. This song epitomises the feeling of finding a friend and alleviating the anxiety of moving to a new place. Sonically, it also has an autumnal feel, with its light acoustic guitars and soft singing easing you into the new season.

Charlotte Westwood: Laufey – ‘Dreamer’

Laufey's jazz is both modern and nostalgicYouTube (Laufey

The opening track of Laufey’s sophomore album Bewitched provides peace and comfort from the moment you hit play. With charming lyrics and rich, deep vocals, Laufey produces a jazz song that feels both modern and nostalgic, much like using a computer in a 17th-century library. So what better soundtrack is there for romanticising autumn in the cutest and oldest parts of Cambridge this Michaelmas?

David Quinn: Paul McCartney – ‘Jenny Wren’

‘Jenny Wren’ exemplifies McCartney’s magical ability to write melodies that are both unspeakably sad and utterly beautiful. Inspired by Dickens and the beauty of the wren, the song features the same acoustic strumming that produces the precious fragility of The Beatles’ ‘Blackbird’ and, similarly to ‘Blackbird’, evokes the mixture of melancholy and optimism characteristic of autumn. A “broken heart” may have taken Jenny Wren’s “song away” but soon she too will be able to “take these broken wings and learn to fly”.

Stella Williamson: Green Day – ‘Wake Me Up When September Ends’

The only Green Day song to feature a month in its title, ‘Wake Me Up When September Ends’, written by frontman Billie Joe Armstrong about the death of his father, celebrates love, loss and closure. With a decidedly simple start accompanied by acoustic guitar and occasional percussion, the song powerfully crescendos into an riveting bridge and guitar solo. Whether coaching you through autumn’s transitional and reflective period or soundtracking your power walk to Sidge, this is a must have on any Autumn playlist.

Ailbe Lonergan: Fontaines D.C. – ‘Dublin City Sky’

Fontaines D.C.'s lyrics mirror the melancholy of AutumnYouTube (KEXP)

Within Fontaines D.C.’s discography, ‘Dublin City Sky’ is the song most overtly influenced by Irish traditional music with a repeating melody and minimal instrumentation. It is this simplicity which gives the tune such comforting energy. There’s something about autumn – perhaps it’s the weather or the falling leaves – which means the air is filled with melancholy, an emotion captured perfectly in Grian Chattan’s lyrics. So, next time you’re walking to class on a cold, misty morning, this song should be your soundtrack. Trust me.

Alan Liu: grentperez – ‘Cherry Wine’

As cosy as the title suggests, this jazz-inspired track features acoustic instrumentation, syncopated rhythms and a warm guitar solo in the middle. The light-vibrato vocals of grentperez lie comfortably on top of a chilled accompaniment. Who wouldn’t want to dance the night away to this lovely track?


Mountain View

What was this year’s ‘song of the summer’?

Hear all these songs and more on this Spotify playlist: