Fire Note Says: Vampire Weekend successfully change things up on album number three!
Album Review: I don’t know why but I really wanted to hate this new third record from Vampire Weekend. Maybe it was the title: Modern Vampires Of The City – kinda goofy right? Maybe it was because I played the hell out of their last two records that also were accompanied with stellar reviews? Maybe because it is cool to like Vampire Weekend – or maybe it is time for backlash? Not sure exactly what it is but I was ready to give this album a just OK review and be done.
Well – Modern Vampires Of The City did not play out exactly how I had planned. It turns out that Vampire Weekend has matured past the wordplay of “Oxford Comma” on their 2008 debut and the cuteness of indie rocker “Cousins” from 2010’s Contra. Now don’t get me wrong – I still enjoy those tracks but the writing here reflects that Vampire Weekend are no longer hanging out with the Fraternity boys. Songs about friends that have lost their jobs (“Obvious Bicycle”) to betrayal and death (“Hudson”); Vampire Weekend have much more to share and say on the world today. That doesn’t mean that Modern Vampires Of The City has no hop like the previous albums, in fact, the energy here is very upbeat with more developed song structures and lyrical content that continues to impress like on “Unbelievers” singer Ezra Koenig is certain that his demise will be a one way ticket down with the peppiest delivery he could find. Other songs, like the stand out “Diane Young” and “Hannah Hunt” find Koening pushing his voice in different directions with more challenging range changes which makes the record that much stronger.
Some fans will have a bit more trouble getting into this record because not only does the band move away from the more tongue in cheek lyrics but the Afro-pop sound that we all loved to write about is not present on this outing. It was a little surprising at first because you just think that is Vampire Weekend’s thing. Turns out – it is not and it turns out that Modern Vampires Of The City is better for it. The band purposely has headed into different territory and survives. I will be honest and tell you that this album is not as immediately enjoyable as the last two but with proper replays Modern Vampires Of The City becomes just as rewarding.
It would have been easy for Vampire Weekend to go through the motions and put out album number three with more of the same – although probably great – also potentially stale and so 2008. The band truly finds themselves moving from being an extreme hype of the moment to career artists as Modern Vampires Of The City is full of energy, confidence and style that just gets better after each spin. This album is a defining moment for Vampire Weekend as they may lose the music hoppers that were here just for the hype phase but this new, dare I even say serious, music progression should build an entire fresh fan base as Modern Vampires Of The City is another highlight in their catalog!
Key Tracks: “Hannah Hunt”, “Diane Young”, “Ya Hey”
Artists With Similar Fire: Girls / Paul Simon / Spoon
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-Reviewed by Christopher Anthony