zachbissett

Modern Vampires of the City

In music, writing on 08/19/2013 at 21:30

Vampire Weekend released their third album, MODERN VAMPIRES OF THE CITY, on May 14th. While MODERN represents a markedly mellower effort from the New York quartet, the declarations that this is the band’s “most mature” album to date is a bit of an overstatement. That is not to say MODERN isn’t a great album—it is. It’s just not as much of a departure from VAMPIRE WEEKEND and CONTRA as some reviews might lead you to believe. That said, the songwriting is a bit more refined, the production a little more polished. Here is a brief overview of the 12 new tracks.

MODERN

1. Obviously Bicycle – While diverging from previous album openers “Mansard Roof” and “Horchata” in terms of tempo, “Obvious Bicycle” sets the tone for what is a beautiful, contemplative collection of music. It also foreshadows the lack of guitar and dominance of the piano, the latter of which is at its very best on this song. 8.9/10

2. Unbelievers – One of the more upbeat songs on the album, “Unbelievers” takes on the voice of an atheist wondering where to turn for comfort in the world. The song, both lyrically and musically, is deceptively simple, begging for one relisten after another. 9/10

3. Diane Young – The lead single off MODERN might be overplayed to some, but there’s a reason for that. This is the band’s most accessible track since “A-Punk,” though Koenig overdue it a tad one the “baby, baby, baby.” 8.5/10

4. Step – The densest song the band has ever written, it denounces the music of generation’s past while deftly incorporating themes, motifs, and even instrumental phrases from a number of influences. Historical and academic references abound. 9.3/10

STEP

5. Don’t Lie – The first of several songs that can be described as “steady,” though that underserves just how simultaneously catchy and philosophical the death-obsessed record really gets. 8/10

6. Hannah Hunt – The first true ballad on MODERN, “Hannah Hunt” is a four minute masterpiece that drags in the most splendid manner conceivable. The pacing pays off big time, as listeners are hit with the full force of Koenig wailing “If I can’t trust you then, damn it, Hannah, there’s no future, there’s no answer.” 9/10

7. Everlasting Arms – A sweet love song at last. “Hold me in your everlasting arms.” What more need be said? 8.8/10

8. Finger Back – Vampire Weekend has a song like this on every record. On the self-titled it is “Holiday.” On CONTRA it is “California English.” While they both have grown on me, the punk undercurrent just does not suit this band. 5.9/10

9. Worship You – While arguably faster than the preceding track, “Worship You” is much more aware of its breakneck verses, and therefore directs itself into a resplendent, relaxed chorus. Still, this marks a stagnant—albeit brief—stretch of album. 6.6/10

10. Ya Hey – The band rebounds with one of MODERN’s most ambitious and beautiful tracks, one I won’t even try to analyze beyond the assertion that it is damn catch. 8.9/10

11. Hudson – The band’s grimmest tune to date, and sadly one of their least impressive. “The clock is such a drag.” My thoughts exactly. 6.1/10

12. Young Lion – A sweet ode to end the album, sprinkled with cheery, “She’s A Rainbow”-esque piano lions. At 1:45 it is hard to read too much into it, but I’ll give MODERN the benefit of the doubt. 8.2/10

TOTAL SCORE: 97.2/120 – B-

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