Highlights: Unbelievers, Step, Don’t Lie, Ya Hey
Okay. I never imagined I would be excited about a new Vampire Weekend album after its release. In fact, I never thought I would end up rating a Vampire Weekend album any higher than a weak 6. Hell, I could hardly expect I would ever even hear another Vampire Weekend album. Let alone like it.
But – it happened. Modern Vampires Of The City, while stylistically not exactly miles away from the band’s two previous albums, does show that Ezra Koenig can do more than record and rerecord a cute, self-consciously smart (no, Ezra, it was actually rather silly) version of Paul Simon’s Graceland.
Afro-pop (or whatever it was) is still hovering in the background somewhere, but this time it is just solid songwriting all around, so masterful on occasion (few songs this year will beat the sheer melodicism and gorgeous keyboard charms of “Step”) that I’m actually prepared to take this band seriously and forgive their inevitable forays into mannerisms. Because essentially this is just a consistent collection of adventurous indie-pop tunes that get off on distinctive style and modest yet palpable ambition. Whether it’s the upbeat “Unbelievers” or the slow and introspective “Hannah Hunt” (with some clever minimalist piano) – it is both memorable and inventive.
For me, this is almost as good as seeing Alex Turner stop making up riffs and begin writing actual melodies. Modern Vampires Of The City is not just ‘clever’ Ivy League blandness: it has substance, it shows growth, and it makes one look forward to whatever they might come up with next,