|Vampire Weekend —•— Modern Vampires Of The City (2013)|
Vampire Weekend —•— Modern Vampires Of The City
Location: New York City, New York
Album release: May 14, 2013
Recorded: 2011 — 2013
Record Label: XL Recordings
01. Obvious Bicycle (4:11)
02. Unbelievers (3:23)
03. Step (4:12)
04. Diane Young (2:40)
05. Don't Lie (3:33)
06. Hannah Hunt (3:58)
07. Everlasting Arms (3:03)
08. Finger Back (3:26)
09. Worship You (3:21)
10. Ya Hey (5:13)
11. Hudson (4:15)
12. Young Lion (1:45)
• Ezra Koenig (born: April 8, 1984) — lead vocals, guitar, lyrics/Notable instruments: Epiphone Sheraton II, Rickenbacker 330
• Rostam Batmanglij (born: November 28, 1983) — keyboards, guitar, backing vocals, lyrics/songwriter, composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist
• Chris Tomson (born: March 6, 1984) — drums, percussion
• Chris Baio* (born: October 29, 1984) — bass guitar, backing vocals/Equipment: Baio's primary bass is an old hollow-body Kustom brand bass guitar in teal. He also is frequently seen using a Rickenbacker 4003 bass guitar and an Epiphone Jack Casady bass guitar
∫ "Modern Vampires of the City is Vampire Weekend's third album, and it is a bustling world of voices and visions from the death of Henry Hudson to the Orthodox girl falling in love at an uptown falafel shop, from Hannah Hunt tearing up the New York Times on a distant beach to the lethal chandelier of "Everlasting Arms," from the ardent yearning of "Don't Lie" to the harmonized voice of hope in "Young Lion". Modern Vampires of the City has a grandeur and romanticism evocative of the city where it was conceived."
∫ Une pop toujours élégante et inventive. Un bel album.
by Marc Burrows (Editor rating: 9/10)
∫ Let’s get some things out of the way upfront 1) the new record by Vampire Weekend is the best alternative pop album you will hear this year. Unselfconscious, technically brilliant in a way that crucially you will never actually notice, shimmering with beautiful, strange melodies and just a small smidge of actual bonkers. 2) Beyond this sentence, this review will not feature any of the following words or phrases: 'preppy', 'posh', 'college', 'Paul Simon', 'monied', 'Afro-' anything, 'fraternity', 'smug', 'button downed' or 'bafflingly sockless hipsters' (although in the latter case that’s a hard one to resist). We’re jettisoning those words because Vampire Weekend have stepped smartly away from all of them — they no longer apply as critical statements, not even as descriptions. Modern Vampires Of The City (bloomin’ marvelous title, FYI) overshadows such petty concerns by simply being immaculate, beautifully balanced and enthralling pop music.
∫ Take lead single ‘Diane Young’, if only because it’s the one you’ve already heard. We know Vampire Weekend do great singles, we’ve clocked ‘Oxford Comma’, ‘A-Punk’ and ‘Cousins’, indie floor-fillers one and all. Small fry, dear reader. ‘Diane Young’ ascends into the post-millennial seven-inch-super-league, it’s within touching of distance of ‘Hey Ya!’, ‘Seven Nation Army’ and ‘Crazy In Love’, it’s dizzy with the exhaust fumes of ‘Can’t Get You Out of My Head’. Ezra Koenig and co-producer Rostam Batmanglij blend jugfulls of disparate musical ideas into a wonderfully refreshing pop smoothie, squelchy at the bottom, sweet and fruity at the top and all weird and fizzy in the middle. It doesn’t sound like any of the bands’ textbook influences or any of their imaginary ‘Brooklyn Scene’ contemporaries, it doesn’t sound of the past– it sounds how twenty-first-century pop should sound: completely of its time - released 20 years ago it would have been utterly baffling. The confidence here is staggering. Do you know how much confidence it takes for a hip indie band to use ”Baby, baby, baby, baby” as a hook? Unironic ”babies” are the property of Elvis, of Motown, of Madonna, of Prince, or Jacko, R Kelly and Mrs Carter, not guitar-toting NYC skinny boys, but that ”Baby, baby, baby, baby” warps, twists and pitch shifts its way through the 'alternative' pop record of the summer, and it works beautifully.
∫ And that’s not even the best bit of the album. There’s ‘Ya Hey’s depiction of shattered faith, which we shan’t attempt to pick apart here because DiS’s Robert Leedham did it so beautifully in his singles column earlier this week (go and read that now. Finished? Good.), musically it’s a sumptuous thing though, echoing its bewildered themes with queasy keys that sit beneath the skittish percussion and wobbling bass that VW do so well, and which they utilise here only occasionally.
∫ Then there’s ‘Step’, elegant chamber pop that manages to sound sophisticated, layered and sparse all at once- no mean feat, and one Vampires... achieves throughout its’ bakers’ dozen tracks. Like our own Hot Chip, Vampire Weekend have the knack for sounding rich and complex with relatively spare arrangements. ‘Hudson’ is beautiful, a sombre, strange tale that’s as much choral piece as it is a scattery indie ballard.
∫ The centrepiece of the record is ‘Hannah Hunt’, which feels like another elegant, piano-and-gentle-drum-plodder until its last third when it opens like a flower, it sounds passionate and organic, and completely joyful. Like a tiny pocket symphony version of the best part of Belle and Sebastian’s ‘Lazy Line Painter Jane’ It lasts just over a minute, at the very centre of the record, a soaring, swelling moment of complete balance and joy. If that 80 seconds was all there was of this whole album it would be still be one of the records of the year. Marvelous.
By Nathan Brackett; May 7, 2013 (Editor rating: ****½)
∫ It's official: Vampire Weekend really don't give a fuck about an Oxford comma. On their third album, Ezra Koenig and the band have rid themselves, once and for all, of the precious post-collegiate references that used to be their calling card: The girls of Wellfleet have scattered, and apparently that second horchata didn't go down as smooth as the first. Koenig is now an old 29; adulthood is inescapable; a clock is ticking in his head. "Wisdom's a gift/But you'd trade it for youth," he sings broodingly, dropping dark nuggets that wouldn't go over too well in a Tommy Hilfiger commercial: "There's a headstone right in front of you/And everyone I know." In "Obvious Bicycle," he sings to a jobless friend who doesn't have a reason to shave: "You ought to spare your face the razor/Because no one's gonna spare their time for you."
∫ All of this might sound like a band in a third-album funk, except that Vampire Weekend have gotten better at just about everything they do. The grooves — always the thing that made the band's twee side work — are more self-assured. "Finger Back" has all the energy of the group's best uptempo tracks ("A–Punk," "Cousins") but flips it with a killer stutter–step beat by drummer Chris Tomson and bassist Chris Baio. Koenig has become a more mature lyricist, editing out some of the hyperliteracy without dumbing down. For the first time, Vampire Weekend evoke the spirit of their old influence Paul Simon — making music with precise craft and soul that speaks to the heart of city life — without sounding anything like Graceland. The hymnlike harmonies of "Bicycle" are as pretty as anything they've ever written. "Unbelievers" has an easy hook that recalls another rocker they've looked up to, Tom Petty. "Hannah Hunt" lifts a simple story about an ambivalent couple driving across the country into something almost religious, with a crescendo that opens up like the coast of Santa Barbara, where our heroes end up, bickering.
∫ God, of all people, looms large: He is a foil on "Unbelievers," where Koenig sings about the fundamentalist half of the world wanting to throw him and his lady under the tracks of the train. The sweet "Everlasting Arms" is partly inspired by a 19th-century church song; "Worship You" references Paradise Lost (and Nick Cave). "Ya Hey" (rhymes with "Yahweh" – get it?) retells the Old Testament story of the burning bush, over a dubby groove. (It's not the first reggae touch: Vampires takes its title from Jamaican singer Junior Reid's 1990 track "One Blood.")
∫ The flip side of "Ya Hey" is "Diane Young," a psychotically Auto-Tuned, twisted rockabilly song that's a play on "dyin' young." Koenig sings about a well-lubricated Irish girl with the "luck of a Kennedy" (uh-oh) who ends up torching a Saab. Koenig doesn't judge her, but he sure as hell doesn't get in the car – it's almost like he's torching that whole Cape Cod thing, once and for all, saying goodbye to young adulthood as his band is pushing into awesome new directions. The gloves are off, the wisdom teeth are out. But the kids stand a chance.
∫ American Songwriter: ****
∫ Billboard: 88/100
∫ Clash: 9/10
∫ Entertainment Weekly: A-
∫ The Guardian: ****
∫ The Line of Best Fit: *******
∫ Paste: 8.7/10
∫ This Is Fake DIY: 9/10
Notes *: Baio released his debut solo EP, "Sunburn," under his DJ name, Baio on May 21, 2012. Rolling Stone said, " A three–track set of undulating dance grooves that capture a vibe the bassist describes as 'hopeful melancholy,' it's the culmination of a hobby Baio took up half a decade ago as a student at Columbia University in New York." Baio drew a lot of inspiration from electronic and dance music and spent much of the past year on DJ'ing due to Vampire Weekend's light tour schedule, and he said, "I'd lock myself in my little office in my apartment with CDJs and a mixer and just practice mixing all day. I did that quite a bit while we were touring the last record and realized when we finished touring that I really wanted to pursue it." His first completed track was "Sunburn Modern," which was inspired by a "nasty, modern art" — looking sunburn he got from a trip to Mexico with his girlfriend.
Interview by Camille Dodero with Chris Baio: http://blogs.villagevoice.com/music/2007/12/everett_true_vampire_weekend.php?page=1
|Vampire Weekend —•— Modern Vampires Of The City (2013)|