Vampire Weekend make a break from what originally made them popular, to be replaced with a weird yet accessible record.
A record based around mortality, sitting deep within the heart of their American heritage.
Regardless of how much distance Vampire Weekend try to put between their previous albums and ‘Modern Vampires Of The City’, to the cynics they will still always be known as the preppy, clean cut, university graduates of the 2008 indie scene. Their 2008 debut album ‘Vampire Weekend’ chronicled this culture with its lyrics of New York high society, alongside music resembling Paul Simon’s ‘Graceland’, through the Afro beats and quirky guitar lines. Out went this formula for the 2010 follow up ‘Contra’, which replaced guitars with synthesisers and electronica, ‘Modern Vampires Of The City’ sees them yet again reinventing a new set of ideals.
The piano laden ‘Obvious Bicycle’ opens the album with its heavy reverbs and finely tuned arrangements, transporting you to the late night streets of New York City, before opening the curtains to the morning sun of ‘Unbelievers’ with its roaming organs and galloping drums. The production qualities offer a fresh palette of sounds with the profound ‘cut and splice’ auto-tuned lead single ‘Diane Young’ and ‘Step’, alongside the pitch shifting vocals of stand out track ‘Ya Hey’. Not only has the album moved on musically but also in lyrical themes, as their three years away has seen them become more world wary. There’s a sense of American history in the eerily orchestral ‘Hudson’, while also dealing with growing old as lead singer Ezra Koenig sings in the rockabilly inspired ‘Diane Young’ “nobody knows what the future holds, it’s bad enough just getting old”.
However ‘Modern Vampires Of The City’ is not a complete side step on the lyrical and musical content of its predecessors, ‘Everlasting Arms’ offers a more familiar feel through its jerky guitars and softly sang vocals and again with the frantic drums and anxious playful keys of ‘Worship You’. The melancholy ‘Hannah Hunt’ creates an atmosphere they have only previously touched upon in ‘I Think Ur A Contra’, with its somber slide guitar, reflective piano and beautifully solemn vocals, before transforming into a blissful bar sing along.
What is great about ‘Modern Vampires Of The City’ is not what is there but what there is not, with its nurturing production values, and musicality that is simple yet precise, loose yet tight. As Vampire Weekend relish within their grandeur musical arrangements this album shows how far they have moved from their debut, this is not to say improved necessarily, yet they have remained relevant where their contemporaries have fallen behind. ‘Modern Vampires Of The City’ is a much more reflective album, one filled with the anxieties of the world and getting older, yet getting older for Vampire Weekend means growing wiser, more diverse and soulful. The ‘Modern Vampires Of The City’ have eclectic beating hearts.
For more on Modern Vampires Of The City go to their website
words Alan Byatt