The first time I heard Vampire Weekend was on a road-trip in the summer of 2010. I was sitting shotgun in my friends Honda Civic, asleep on our way down to Florida. Apparently not a good co-driver, nor a good sleeper as, through my doze I could hear the faint wisp of music. I woke up a few songs into the album and asked my friend who was driving, who the group was. “Vampire Weekend,” he told me, and from then I was hooked.
I find that for me, liking a band or liking a song doesn’t come from someone telling me to listen to it, but rather more organically, by just hearing it, not expecting anything other than music. This has been the case with many of who are now some of my favorite artists. In the case of Vampire Weekend, they came as a very unexpected surprise. They were a band that those kids, ie. not me, listened to. I had assigned a stigma or a connotation to them before even giving them a chance.
However, that day, upon being woken by their music, I was drawn in by the vocals and the plucky-upbeat-guitar (the lyrics didn’t sink in for me until later), both of which were very Paul Simon-esque, and both of which I liked. That year at school I obtained the first two albums and listened to them constantly. Now, finally, after wearing them out, I have a new drug for the summer.
Modern Vampires of the City is a slight departure from the first two albums. It steers itself into an even more “hip” and “indie” direction, but I think in a good way. My inclination would be to say that it is the best of their three studio albums, but I don’t think that would be fair. For one, I have only listened to this album once. For another I was given the unfortunate benefit of having gotten into the band once their first two records were out. There was no waiting involved and so, for me, this is almost like a second album.
That being said, I will say that I enjoy Vampire Weekend more than Contra, which scared me because I thought, perhaps each subsequent album will go further downhill, or rather further away from what I fell in love with in the first place. Like I said, though MVOTC does move away and set itself apart from these two, it does so in a calm and, to use my mom’s word, ‘peaceful’ way.
Upon listening to Ya Hey and Diane Young on Vampire Weekend’s website last week, my fears were seemingly confirmed. I thought the videos were weird and the lyrics were weird and I did not have high hopes. Then however, I made my way to the third video, Step, and thought, “Hell yes, if the album is like this, I am gonna love it.”
Oddly enough, as I type this quasi roundabout review, I can’t get Ya Hey out of my head. I really do think that I was thrown off by the videos and the visuals because without them, I really like all of these songs.
Additionally, I had heard Unbelievers months ago when VW were on Jimmy Kimmel. I then heard it again when they were on SNL this past Saturday night. Hearing this song live, I was not convinced by it. However, hearing the crisp studio version, it is quite good.
Track 7 –Everlasting Arms– is very Paul Simon-ey; particularly the bass line. It’s very reminiscent of his album Graceland, I really like it. Conversely, a song that stood out, not as bad, but as different was the second to last song, Hudson. It is much more somber and “emo” than I’ve ever heard VW before. It reminded of The Chauffeur by Duran Duran, which is a great song.
There are a few vocal or rather production choices that are a little strange, particularly upon a first listening. However, if you can get past them, and trust me, you will, the record is a truly good listening experience and was well worth the wait.
I’m so glad this record, though delayed by a week from it’s original release date, came out today, as now I am ready for the concert tomorrow and none of the songs will be a surprise.
Also, I had already predicted this, but upon listening to the album, I can say almost without a doubt that at least one of these songs will be featured in season 3 of GIRLS. Probably Hannah Hunt as Hannah is the name of the main character, but perhaps that is too obvious of a choice.
Worship You belongs in Wes Anderson’s hypothetical next movie and Unbelievers sounds like it could/should be used in the theatrical trailer.
This album is more mature and is a natural progression from the first album and Contra . It’s also less poppy.
General VW feelings: I like all of the 1st album (minus I Stand Corrected) whereas there are about 4 tracks (WS, CE, GUTG, ITUAC) on Contra that I typically skip. I feel smarter or more sophisticated when I listen to VW. Ezra captures the college spirit with the first two albums. The lyrics are smart in a ‘let me show you how clever I am’ way. The bounce and rhythm and rhyme of the words and the word choices themselves have a sort specific voice and flow and poetry to them that is only rivaled by Piebald.
—Track-by-Track breakdown: more for me than it is for you
Obvious Bicycle – relaxed and reverent; sort of off-putty lyrics just like those found later in the album in Ya Hey; my feeling is neither here nor there but it’s good. Today -May 17th- I woke to Obvious Bicycle in my head, which subconsciously must be the point because the lyrics to the song start out with someone waking up and starting their day. The song really sounds and feels that way [like someone waking up], and in that context I really like it.
Additionally this may have slightly been impacted or influenced by the fact that one of the last things I did before going to bed was listen to MVOTC. Do yourself a favor and listen to the record in reverse order, last song to first. That was how I listend to it before I went to bed and it helped me to really listen to and appreciate the songs. Plus, your attention is usually higher at the beginning of something than it is at/towards the end. So, listening to the album this way allows you to give more attention to the songs that usually get less of your attention. It tricks your brain also because it makes you fall out of the lull of knowing what’s going to come next. It was an enlightening experience.
Unbelievers* – the Holiday or Walcott of this album, plucky and upbeat; has a Wes Anderson movie feel; religious? a lot of fun and catchy
Step* – one of my favorite songs on the album; gangasta as shit and almost hip-hop/rap-ey
Diane Young* – the A-punk or Cousins of this album; great and upbeat. you will get it stuck in your head and you will get sick of it due to overplay
Don’t Lie – slow chill hip hop rock slow jam just dance at the party sit back and kick it; religious?
Hannah Hunt – one of the best of the toned-down songs on the album; makes me want to cry when it has the turnover at the end; excellent and beautiful track; must be sure not to kill it by listening to it too much
Everlasting Arms – Paul Simion-ey like his album Graceland; I really like the feel of this one because of the aforementioned qualities
Finger Back – yeah, vibey, just right happy upbeat without being too fast; I really like this one a lot
Worship You – very fast and upbeat; very Wes Anderson – The Darjeeling Limited; The Kinks-ish
Ya Hey* – did not like at first but now I think it’s great; weird sort of negative lyrics; you will get it stuck in your head and you will get sick of it due to overplay; religious?
Hudson – not my favorite song on the album; not bad, but you have to be in the mood for it; reminiscent of The Chauffeur by Duran Duran
Young Lion – reverent, my feeling is neither here nor there but it’s good
*one of the poppier more mainstream ones