Both Vampire Weekend and Contra were released in the months of January. I never thought of their music having a winter feeling, but in the end, the record company has the final say on the release date. The New York City indie rock band has always had a summer flair to the upbeat and disjointed hits. From college radio to hit TV shows, their music could be all over every source of media. After a three year break, they’re back with a new big time release. Modern Vampires Of The City promises a full recovery from two massively exciting albums. The band also promised a darker, more down to earth tone that could contrast the earlier albums.
The album opens with a shocking tune. “Obvious Bicycle” is slower, more draining and doesn’t have that ‘get up and dance’ feel that past openers have had. It’s dynamically different, but I enjoyed it and I assume fans will still appreciate the change. The second song, “Unbelievers”, feels like any other VW track, as does the next few. Exciting, fast BPM’s, and a very disjointed drum beat that can get any crowd moving. What I noticed from the start is how the songs a lyrically darker, “I’m not excited / But should I be / Is this the fate that half of the world has planned for me?”. These themes carry throughout the longest album that Vampire Weekend has released, which clocks in at just under 43 minutes. Still, the fast, exciting tracks carry that ability to be crazy hits.
What caught my eye is how smooth the production is. I was walking around listening to the ending of “Unbelievers” and the beginning of “Step” and was blown away. The drum smash right as the song picks up carries the same energy as a club banger. Even the next track, “Diane Young”, has that goofy Vampire Weekend style to it. Ironically, I just caught on the the ‘Dying Young’ play-on-words that the title holds. I never saw the band as lyrically forward thinking, but they surely pick up that aspect with Modern Vampires Of The City.
Songs like “Don’t Lie”, “Hannah Hunt”, and “Ya Hey” show that dynamic shift in their sound. I still heard that same keyboard tone and drum sound, but the songs are slower and closer to heart. Even some tracks feel more experimental (pitch shifting, large amount of reverb, and uncommon instrumentation). To most fans of the previous fun, upbeat material, this will be a shock to them. With an open mind these tracks can be just as great, but in a different way the past albums were.I personally enjoyed most of the songs included here, but I did not like the closer, “Young Lion”. The song felt very forced and an awkward reprise of the stunner, “Diane Young”. Maybe Vampire Weekend listened to too much of The Suburbs while making this album? The difference is that Arcade Fire does that sort of closer well, and Vampire Weekend was practically shoving that track onto the album. A sad way to close a very solid album.
The first time I heard a preview for the album a few months, I was shocked. I was shocked because it was the first time I felt like Vampire Weekend was doing something wrong. The preview had songs, “Step” and “Diane Young”, included and I hated it. Ironically, those ended up being my two favourite songs on the entire album. As a whole, Modern Vampires Of The City clicks very well. The darker, eerie themes seem smooth and unforced throughout the album, and Vampire Weekend still has that emotional energy that was found on past releases. The three years of no deadlines brought together the band. With a more mature sound, Vampire Weekend has released their most complete and fulfilling album to date. I highly recommend giving this a listen.
Watch the controversial video for “Diane Young”: