Following on from 2010’s Contra and their self titled 2008 debut, Vampire Weekend are back with their third studio album, Modern Vampires Of The City. With more maturity and serious style than their previous releases, the new album steps even heavier on the art and baroque pop pedals.
Opening out with the harmony rich Obvious Bicycle, one of the first things to hit you is a transition away from the the world music percussion that has made their previous work stand out so much. However, the song has quite a cool drum mix that helps to give it a little more impact over and above the beautifully slow chamber pop introduction that it is.
Second track, Unbelievers, picks up the pace with a quicker drum beat and guitar mix. Ezra’s vocals are as glassy as ever and the organ overlay and piano melodies work well. It’s followed up by the art pop ice track, Step, that’s filled out by interwoven harpsichord, organ synth and piano melodies interlinked with a very stylish verse and chorus vocal.
The big exception in terms of maturity and serious intent is Diane Young, which is fun and silly in parts wrapped up in a very cool and shimmering multicoloured cape of musical brilliance. It’s definitely up there with the best of Vampire Weekend and will make your legs jump out of their stride instantly.
Confirming a strong first 5 tracks on Modern Vampires Of The City, Don’t Lie has a hypnotic flow of pounding mid pace drums, woven harpsichord strings, tremolo infused synth organ tones and more great vocals from Ezra. Things return to the softer side of the Vampire Weekend spectrum on Hannah Hunt, which is sparse and poignant with a punchier final third that does a lot to pull the track up a notch.
Everlasting Arms is one of the only tracks that dips into the world music percussion that’s given Vampire Weekend their comparisons to Paul Simon. The quick wrist guitar rhythm is brilliant and while the track is s little subdued, it’s artistically impressive. The downside is an octave here and there too high on the vocal scale.
Finger Back seems a bit too much like a novelty track to catch a fire, despite picking up the speed considerably. Worship You has a cool military drum beat, but the hyper speed verse vocals are a nudge in the wrong direction, slightly unpicking what could have been one of the better tracks on the album.
Ya Hey, the second single from the album, is a good listen in general, but it’s a little bare and the weird effects on the Ya Hey don’t sound great. Hudson is also stripped with industrial art rock sounds and chamber overtones. It’s a cool track, but full on serious, so its appeal drops over time. It’s a similar case for final track, Young Lion, excluding the industrial, closing out the album on a downbeat.
While Modern Vampires Of The City is instantly recognisable as a Vampire Weekend album there’s also new directions. The increased postmodern art pop intrusion works very well at times, but also loses the lighter appeal of the band. It’s a cool album overall, but it tails off in the final third.
Vampire Weekend, Modern Vampire Of The City review: 3.9/5
Vampire Weekend, Modern Vampires of the City track list:
1. Obvious Bicycle
4. Diane Young
5. Don’t Lie
6. Hannah Hunt
7. Everlasting Arms
8. Finger Back
9. Worship You
10. Ya Hey
12. Young Lion