Modern Vampires of the City is the last album released by the New York indie band Vampire Weekend. According to Ryan Dombal, writer for the popular blog about indie music, Pitchfork; this last album “is a more grown-up album. It largely trades in the Africa-inspired giddiness of their first two records for a sound that’s distinctly innate and closer to the ear”. That’s why this record has been chosen as one of the 50 best albums of 2012-2013 by the Rolling Stones magazine: “It’s one of rock’s great albums about staring down adulthood and trying not to blink”. In this blog post we will go track by track trying to give you a general insight on what Vampire Weekend’s new album is all about.
1. Obvious Bicycle
The first track of the album opens with strong lyrics and a slow percussion-filled melody: “morning’s come, you’ve watched the red sun rise”. As always, the keyboards of Rostam Batmanglij give this song (and every other song) a more grown-up sound. And, combined with Ezra Koening’s vocals, the pieces becomes a truly masterpiece, in my opinion.
Probably one of the most “pop-ish” songs of all. It has a very catchy tune and lyrics, which will leave no one indifferent. One will find it hard to not hum along or follow the rhythm tapping your feet. You can listen to it here.
The chorus and some parts of the song are borrowed from a song called “Aubrey” by Grover Washington Jr. But far from being a cover song, Vampire Weekend manage to use “the past to inspire the present”, as Pitchfork pointed out, creating a beautiful song. You can listen to it here.
4. Diane Young
This is the song that has been played quite a lot over this summer on the radio and has captivated a wide audience. It’s an up-beat song with a very interesting (some may say, strange) progression from chorus to verse. Definitely worth a listen if you are a first time Vampire Weekend listener.
5. Don’t Lie
The main theme of the whole album can be clearly seen in this song: “death and dubious sense of faith” (according to Pitchfork). Koening sings: “the low click of a ticking clock/ there’s a lifetime right in front of you/ and everyone I know”. These themes far from being addressed in the form of blue and corny tunes, are presented in the form of masterpieces like this one.
6. Hannah Hunt
According to Ryan Dombal from Pitchfork, this is one of the best songs on the album, claiming that “it seems like Vampire Weekend’s entire career thus far has led to this one song”. This song is the culminating moment of the omnipresent theme of the passing of time, with Ezra Koening’s voice singing: “you and me, we got our own sense of time”.
7. Everlasting Arms
The songs starts off with a set of strings and is followed by an African-like percussion; very much like the old Vampire Weekend’s records. But it is much more grown-up and the sound has clearly developed since the last album.
8. Finger Back
An incredibly upbeat and catchy song that is about “historic atrocities and brutality”, as Pitchfork says.
9. Worship You
Another fast and up-beat song. In my opinion, one of the most difficult songs to sing, with very fast verses and tongue-twister-like lyrics.
10. Ya Hey
Oh the joy of this song! I find it hard not to get excited when talking about this song. When you first hear it, you think: “oh, strange”. The track starts rather slowly and then breaks into the catchiest chorus ever, repeating over and over again “ya hey, ya hey”. By the time the song finishes, you just feel the need to listen to it again and sing along to every chorus because it is amazing like that. Give it a listen here.
One of the band’s saddest and darkest songs, that is set in an apocalyptic Manhattan.
12. Young Lion
The last song of the album. A very simple tune, with the keyboard as the central instrument. It has practically no lyrics. Koening just repeats again and again with the other band mates back vocals: “You take your time, young lion”. It is a short piece of art that ends with a piano note lingering, long and slowly softening.
It’s really hard to describe an album such as this one with words, the best way of understanding this record that I have tried so hard to explain, is by giving it a listen (or two) and feeling it. After all, as Hans Christian Andersen said: “WHERE WORDS FAIL, MUSIC SPEAKS”.
-Dombal, Ryan (13 May 2013) “Vampire Weekend: Modern Vampires of the City” Retrieved 10 Dec. 2013 from http://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/17963-vampire-weekend-modern-vampires-of-the-city/
-Brackett, Nathan (7 May 2013) “Vampire Weekend” Retrieved 11 Dec. 2013 from http://www.rollingstone.com/music/albumreviews/modern-vampires-of-the-city-20130507