New Sounds and New Thoughts from Vampire Weekend

May 27, 2013 · Print This Article

Vampire Weekend delivers yet again with the release of their third full-length album, Modern Vampires of the City. The album features heavy use of synthesizer, piano, and overdubbed vocals, in addition to their more familiar style, which in this case appears to have been pushed to the side in favor of experimentation. The result is an album filled with complex lyrics and a wide variety of often chaotic sounds. There is a marked level of maturity in the quality of the music, as well as in the content of the songs lyrically that makes Modern Vampires an excellent continuation of the band’s career.

The first track “Obvious Bicycle” sets the stage for the album, introducing the listening to the new sound with a mix of piano, African-styled drums, and vocals. The album quickly steps up with “Unbelievers,” a foot-tapping, fast-paced track reminiscent of Vampire Weekend’s self-titled pioneer album. The lyrical content of the track explores questions, or perhaps denials, of faith with lines like, “I’m not excited, but should I be,” setting up a theme of faith that reappears throughout the album.

The album picks up speed with “Diane Young,” a bouncy dance-rock jam filled with crashing drums, synth, and crooning vocals that reveal a rebellious spirit willing to “die young.” Soon following this, “Everlasting Arms” continues the ‘questions of faith’ theme from “Unbelievers.” Set to a backdrop of drums, guitar, and synth, Koenig’s lyrics play with the questions of where his own concept of faith lies, and whether a deity should be trusted, opening with the line ‘I trusted your counsel and came to ruin,’ but closing with the title words, ‘hold me in your everlasting arms.’

The questions of faith continue in “Ya Hey,” a track which arguably uses a play on the Hebrew name for God, Yahweh. The song itself is a beautiful high point for the album, despite the chipmunk-esqu voices chanting ‘ya hey’ throughout the song.

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By this point in the album it’s clear that Koenig’s opinions of God and faith are as varied as the songs of the album.

The whole album isn’t dedicated entirely to Koenig’s questions of faith.  Other songs deal with familiar topics in music, such as the love story described in “Finger Back,” which bears an implied similarity to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The maturity of the album is revealed in its moments of depth, found in lyrics and in the sound of the music itself.

The songs individually might sound like they shouldn’t fit together, but as a whole they create a very interesting body of work. Modern Vampires of the City is imaginative and a very fitting addition to Vampire Weekend’s career so far. –Jordan B. Frye, Contributing Editor @jordanbfrye

 

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