Vampire Weekend’s newest record Modern Vampires of the City has the pop-alternative band ditching some of their African-oriented sounds while still maintaining the style that caused the attraction in the first place. Ariel Rechtshaid, who was unfamiliar with Vampire Weekend’s discography, serves as producer on their third entry. Rechtshaid’s involvement with the band has caused the tracks to be a refreshing take on the genre Ezra Koenig and the gang have become synonymous with. Koenig tackles religion, adulthood, and relationships while the band compliments his vocals with a varied range of instruments.
The album begins with Obvious Bicycle which almost sounds like Koenig is giving advice to the listener. He says “listen” as if he does not want one to make the same mistakes he has. In combination with Rostam Batmanglij’s backing David Bryne-like vocals and the subtle instrumental, it begins the record with a soft and airy atmosphere. The next track Unbelievers is a song that juxtaposes a cheerful, upbeat instrumental with Koenig’s singing of “we know the fire awaits unbelievers, all of the sinners the same”. The latter end of the track blows up but Koenig softens his voice and puts a quaint little bow on the package. Step and Diane Young, the first singles of the album, are the tracks most similar to their self-titled LP and Contra. Step, an allusion to music with references to Modest Mouse and other bands, is lushly produced with Koenig’s vocals being somewhat distorted in the first two lines of the song but then dials it back and lets Batmanglij, Baio, Tomson’s instruments shine through. Diane Young is the antithesis of Step. It has Koenig distortedly repeating “baby, baby, baby, right on time” while the band’s instruments explode in the back.
Don’t Lie is also classic Vampire Weekend. Koenig’s strange yet sweet vocals serenade the listener while classical instruments make up the instrumental. Hannah Hunt, similar to Contra’s Run, deals with the materialism of society and forgetting the stress projected by the public. It begins with noises of everyday life, people’s chit-chat and industrial sounds, until Koenig softly sings about living on the U.S. dollar. The song becomes increasingly better toward the end of the track when Koenig screams to his love that he longs for their “own sense of time”. You can almost hear the yearning in his voice. Everlasting Arms is an inspirational song where Koenig says to watch out for the chandelier that is headed down. The instrumental is buoyant and bubbly while he urges for his love to hold him forever in her. Fingerback is the next track and is greatly overproduced. Koenig’s vocals are almost grating and the instrumental is too noisy for it to be enjoyable. Worship You is a fast-paced song where Koenig’s delivery of his lines are similar to that of an amateur Busta-Rhymes. The backing vocals sound quasi-punjabi sounding. Ya Hey is a spacious song that conceptually sounds polarizing; however, the execution of the high-pitched vocals and religious allusions make it one of the best songs on the album.
Hudson and Young Lion are the last two tracks on the record and are the grand farewell to the trilogy. Hudson, which almost sounds like the end of an action movie, has the feel of battle music. They have already won the war and are returning home, fatigued and damaged. Koenig’s vocals sound dreary and soft. Young Lion is a soft-spoken track that features Batmanglij’s vocals. It bids adue to these past three albums and end the album on a delicate note
Modern Vampires of the City showcases that Vampire Weekend knows how to adapt and evolve. They nixed the inspirations from their former albums while still maintaining the sound they initially owned.
Favorite Tracks: Step, Diane Young, Everlasting Arms, Ya Hey
Least Favorite Tracks: Fingerback