Vampire Weekend has been hiding in the dark for a solid three years. In 2008, they shook up the rock world with their debut album. Two years later, they made everyone yearn for an extended vacation on a foreign island with Contra. And now, at last, the band resurfaced from the shadows of New York with their third album, Modern Vampires Of The City.
“Obvious Bicycle” re-introduces us to the band that so many have been struck by. The world sound captured on both the debut album and sophomore album remains with the band’s beloved South African influence beating on the drums and into our earlobes.
This time around, it is evident that Ezra Koenig, Rostam Batmanglij, Chris Tomson and Chris Baio are not the same men they were six years ago. On the brink of entering their golden thirties, they are no longer college undergrads bursting with energy and naivety. (Perhaps the closing track, “Young Lion” is the band’s way of paying homage to their Columbia University roots.)
This logic is best exemplified in the song “Step,” where Koenig’s musical metaphors shed light on their new mindset: “Wisdom’s a gift, but you’d trade it for youth. Age is an honor, it’s still not the truth.” There’s always a hint of nostalgia between the lines, but it’s applied in a tasteful manner. Into their adulthood, these men have had their fair share of life experiences and are willing to lyrically share their words of wisdom with fans in regards to relationships with loved ones, God, and everything and everyone in-between.
“Unbelievers” is full of soul, as beautiful harmonies are matched with strumming and humming guitars. This is the tune that will make everyone get off his or her feet and rejoice for Vampire Weekend’s long awaited return. “Girl, you and I will die unbelievers bound to the tracks of the train,” Koenig sings. Oh, Ezra, you always know how to make the ladies swoon.
And then the dynamic single “Diane Young” rocks, rolls, shimmies, and shakes all the way through. It’ll have a crowd stomping and clapping like wind-up monkey toys. Towards the end of the album, “Worship You” has the same effect, just with the addition of synthesizers. It’s like we’re marching along with Vampire Weekend on a pilgrimage to a holier land.
Named after the singer of Dominant Legs, “Hannah Hunt” tells the somber story of an estranged couple that no longer trusts each other. Hannah is not satisfied as she and Koenig travel from Providence to Phoenix to Santa Barbara. While she “miss[es] the freezing beaches” and “[tears] the New York Times to pieces,” he “walk[s] into town to buy some kindling for the fire”.
Everything sounds the same, but better. That’s not to say that the debut album isn’t Vampire Weekend’s best work, but Modern Vampires of the City isn’t a disappointment either. In terms of the mood this album sets, there are grey clouds where the sun once shined, but that doesn’t mean that the old Vampire Weekend is gone. The band has come a long way since they first started, and this album is verification of their growth and maturity.
Modern Vampires of the City completes the Vampire Weekend trilogy. One can only hope that the saga continues for many years to come.