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Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City June 11, 2013

Posted by gwyoung in Album Reviews, Music.
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Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires of the CityArtist: Vampire Weekend

Album: Modern Vampires of the City

Release: XL Recordings, 2013

Genre: Pop

RIYD: Buddy Holly, Neil Young

Vampire Weekend’s first two albums, though delicious, infectious, and still candy to my ears, were basically the band applying their remarkable ability to write pop songs to the sounds trademarked by other musicians. On their debut in 2008 they were Paul Simon’s afro-beat reincarnate, and on 2010’s Contra they were a mish-mash of popular indie peers like MIA and Animal Collective. As such, Modern Vampires of the City can be described as the record where Vampire Weekend finally finds their own sound. Stripped of all the polychromatic effects of their prior efforts, the vocals, lyrics, and songwriting can really shine through, just like that sun shines through the smog over a sepia Manhattan in the cover art.

Though the title uses the words “modern” and “vampires”, the vintage quality of the music on the album makes it feel timeless while the subject matter (fear of death, lost love, the feeling of placelessness) is startlingly human. Frontman Ezra Koenig’s lyrics were never anything special before (remember “Blake’s got a new face”?) but this time around he reigns in the intentional obfuscation in favor of a much more direct approach, and Rostam Batmanglij’s delicate echo and subtle production serve only to enhance the performance. Of course, there are still times when the band wear their influences on their sleeves (see “Diane Young”) but there are fewer obvious precedents for the more humbling tracks like “Obvious Bicycle” and “Hannah Hunt”. Whether you’re a Vampire Weekend fan or not, there’s no denying that they’ve created something truly special in Modern Vampires of the City: a universal gem of surprising originality.

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