Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City Review

Naturally, a lot is expected from Vampire Weekend with the general success of their first two albums from which they have developed slightly to a more sophisticated and thorough approach and sound between them. One thing is also certain. They will get radio time across most stations too and there might be a greater sense of responsibility on their part, to create a more developed and perhaps even innovative sound to all these ‘chart listeners’. Perhaps with Modern Vampires of the City; they have done that. First up to be unveiled was ‘Diane Young’. The song it’s self is just under three minutes of Vampire Weekend upping the anti with the drums, bass, and guitar and synth sections aswell. The only part of the song where you get a breather is in the bridge sections with basic percussion along with Erza Koenig’s manipulated vocals that change the pitch of his voice from high to low. This was done using pitch shifting equipment which is used on other songs on the album. But then Chris Tomson’s drums come tearing their back into the song along with the other instumentals. Perhaps from my description it’s suggested that it’s a bit of a wild mess but they are all pretty talanted musicians and so they have a sense of control with the song that still makes it enjoyable whether sitting down or spinning on your head. The songs energy is it’s key and that’s why it’s a great single. This song is likely to be played to death at some Thursday night Indie Disco too and it will still probably appeal to those half hearted fans who just liked songs like Holiday, Cousins etc.

‘Step’ could not be more different and really acts as a demonstration of their added maturity and sophistication. The song is much more stripped back musically and at a much steadier tempo. Erza’s vocals are more isolated and the song allows him to display his vocal ability. This is accompanied by simple synth chords, basic drums and a very considered bass line which often intercepted at the close of every verse and on the chorus by a harpsichord like sound which has a angelic choir going on in the background which also closes the song. In addition to this the lyrics of Batmanglij and Koenig really take centre stage as well which could often be blurred between nonsense or genius, or even a little of both. It’s been described as Simon and Garfunkel on acid or something and this actually sums ‘Step’ up pretty well. Similarly ‘Ya Hey’ is of a similar tempo and feel to ‘Step’ with very similar choir like elements and basic drum and bass sections, while the synths take a back seat. ‘Ya Hey’ does include a victorian style piano solo on the bridge but continues throughout the latter half of the song as a rythm indicator. The song includes the more extensive use of the pitch shifting with the high pitched ‘Ya Hey’s’ in the chrous which is quite broken up and then leads to Erza’s vocals taking centre stage again and acting as hook with it’s slight anthemic and ‘sing-a-long’ quality.

Other songs include ‘Unbelievers’ which is driven by an organ sound along with a basic rythm section along with complimentry backing vocals that provide a great little harmony that provides the song with it’s hook. ‘Worship You’ at times on the chrous has the same quality to it that Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘The Boxer’ which was recorded in the spire section of a church. But it’s intercepted at intervals by Erza’s rapid paced vocals and generally the song it’s self is pretty up tempo. ‘Hudson’ has shades of an experimental song about it with the angelic choir sound making another appearance but to this time to add a real eerie atmosphere. The candenced march of the drums and the dull tones of the synths add to it and again shows how the band have developed since 2010. The album was produced with Ariel Rechtshaid who has worked with the likes of Bieber to Haim so knows how to polish a record until you can use it as a mirror. The band have certainly tried a few different methods too with the pitch shifting which was also used on the drums and the guitar was recorded straight onto the recording programme while various drifferent recording techniques were used to ‘soften’ the album and make it listenable. They have certainly done that and while being very carefully produced, it also has a slight edge to it as well and therefore results in their best album yet. They have grown older and their music has grown with it to create a very unique at times and mature sound. Batmanglij also suggested that “We thought these three albums should look like they belong together on a bookshelf.” But all three albums work together as stand-alone records too but this may be a signal for a more radical approach for the fourth album either lyrically or musically but you’ll just have to wait on that one. Die hard fans may have to adapt slightly, half hearted fans might not be interested and those who haven’t listened to them might like them for the first time but in general it’s their best album yet and the future looks promising as Vampire Weekend establish themselves as accomplished and dynamic musicians.

Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City = 8.5/10

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  1. Hey, just wanted to let you know the name is actually Ezra 😉

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