Friday, May 17, 2013
Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires of the City - ALBUM REVIEW
Genres: Indie Rock / Alternative / Indie Pop
Top Tracks: Obvious Bicycles, Unbelievers, Step, Diane Young,
Hanna Hunt, Finger Back, Worship You, Ya Hey
The New York based Indie Rockers, Vampire Weekend, are some of the most eclectic, talented and memorable musicians around in the indie scene today. The band first made waves with their self titled debut album in 2008 which featured a motley of sounds that ranged from 80's new-wave to reggae to punk rock. Vampire Weekend's debut was considered a strong debut album that propelled the fan to what seemed like immediate stardom in the world of indie music. Something that usually either ends really well or really badly for bands in the position of Vampire Weekend.
The band released the follow up for their debut in 2010 entitled, Contra. This album further boasted the ambitiously cool and breezy vibe that brought Vampire Weekend its initial success. The songs on this album were new, fresh, innovative and so naturally, some fans and critics misconstrued this creativity as pretentiousness. They felt that a band as new and inexperienced as Vampire Weekend would have to be absolutely crazy if they thought they could transcend the boundaries of their genre and create new trends within the music world. However, they did. That's right, Vampire Weekend made hipster cool.
Leading up to the production of this new album, Vampire Weekend found themselves in a strange, complicated predicament that has unfolded before the eyes of the music industry many times before: A band who relied on artistic integrity and independence from the opinions of critics were now being thrown into the spotlight of the indie/alternative scene. The big question was how would Vampire Weekend handle this situation? Would they quote on quote "sell out" and become an entity for music executives around the country? Would they become full of themselves and overshoot? And most importantly, would they prove to be artificial and out of new ideas by the release of their third studio album?
In a nutshell, Modern Vampires of the City is a well produced, carefully thought out yet worthwhile "Fuck You!" to anyone who thought that these things were even remotely true about Vampire Weekend. On the band's third album, it is very refreshing in today's music industry to see a band with as much commercial success as Vampire Weekend writing music for THEMSELVES. And most rewarding to all Vampire Weekend fans, the album sounds good too.
Frontman Ezra Koenig with the help of his band and their seemingly endless amount of musical variations urge fans to simply "Listen" on the opening track of the album, 'Obvious Bicycle'. This track is a beautiful piece and it simply warms the ears to hear the vocals from Koenig and the embracing vibes from the harmonies and piano. The next track, 'Unbelievers' is a more upbeat and happy song with a very full pay-off during the chorus. The piano ending, mixed along with some synths adds some passion to this song and makes it one of the many stand outs on this album. I first heard this song when these guys performed it on Saturday Night Live last week and it sounded unbelievably good.
However, if I had to choose a favorite on this album, it would definitely have to be 'Diane Young'. This song is the single off of the album because of how varied it is in such a short amount of time. One moment quick-paced, hard-hitting and low-fi drums give way to mellow vocal hooks and the next, heavy synthesizers lead to a winding guitar solo. This song is not only one of the best I have heard this year so far, but also a song that exemplifies why people are so drawn in by the weirdness that Vampire Weekend create.
From this point in the album, the band utilizes more strange instrumentation in ways that can surprise listeners in pleasant ways. For example the flutes in the background of the song 'Don't Lie' are essentially the only lead instrument in the chorus accompanied by the slow and steady bassline which progress the song rather nicely.
And of course every album needs its slow love song and the track 'Hanna Hunt' is the one on this album. Koenig sings softly and painfully of memories he had with a girl and he is joined by a tearful guitar line in the background as well as some almost haunting background vocals. The song then evolves as the drums come into the mix and a piano solo gives way to high and soaring vocals which add the fire to this track. It's another great track from Vampire Weekend on this album.
Another one of my favorites is 'Finger Back' due to its quick pace and quirkiness. It's rather difficult to explain why I enjoy this track but I think it's primarily because of the various instrumentation throughout that I often don't even think to notice. The same can be said for the airy and whimsical 'Ya Hey'. This is yet another element that makes this album pretty strong.
All in all, my final opinion of this album was one of rather strong approval. Although it is not as memorable as the fun and fast-paced self titled debut, it is certainly pretty far ahead of any other acts in the indie-rock/pop scene today. Vampire Weekend are great musicians and artistic minds. I'm just happy they're continuing to make records for themselves.