Vampire Weekend "Modern Vampires of the City"
WYEP features some of our favorite releases in December including the 4th album from Vampire Weekend.
One assumes a band choses its opening track on a new album carefully. It is the gateway through which we enter its world, its work, and, as we all know, first impressions matter. “Obvious Bicycles” begins pensively with plaintive piano chords, muted percussion, and Ezra Koenig mulling alienation and isolation. The pace is slow, but is enhanced by sequences of lacquered production. Is this a departure from the sound of Vampire Weekend’s first two albums? To a degree the answer is yes. Modern Vampires of the City is the quintessential third album in that it allows for experimental expansion within the realm of the band’s signature sound.
Following its tour for the album Contra, which wrapped five non-stop years of travel and recording, members of Vampire Weekend took a breather from the band to work on other projects and to rest. Koenig and Rostam Batmanglij began the process of writing for their third release a year and a half ago, composing in New York, L.A., and Martha’s Vineyard. Romantic break-ups, mortality, and the life of young preppies in the city fuel the lyrics. VPW has been criticized and stereotyped as entitled Ivy League boys, but instead of denying it they seem to be embracing the identity. Likewise, the band’s sound has been described as a hodge-podge of ethnic influences mixed with punk rock pacing, and baroque rock influence. Although there is still a deep root into these areas something new is happening here. Vampire Weekend offers a few more musical historical references, specifically 70’s rock. “Step” takes enough inspiration from the old Bread song “Aubrey” that they had to designate it as a sample. The pacing is also significantly slower than on past releases and offers a few more frills, aka harpsichord and strings.
Modern Vampires of the Modern City is co-produced by band member Rostam Batmanglij and Ariel Rechtshaid. The former has produced Usher, Kylie Minogue, and Justin Bieber which points out the wild dichotomy of this album. The band uses analog tape for the warm natural sound, but also play with pitch shifting. There are moments of pure guilty pleasure pop, but offset as they are by smart baroque rock, world and reggae rhythms, and those very clever lyrics, one never feel remorse for spending time with a band that seems to be announcing its intention to be a major player in music for many years to come.
Rosemary Welsch (Afternoon Mix)