Vampire Weekend were the “best-new-thing” even before their debut album dropped in 2008. Bucking the growing trend, however, their initial internet fame did not lead them to adopt the simple twinkle of stereotypical indie. Modern Vampires of the City builds on Vampire Weekend’s past work, broadens their range of sound, and deals with some particularly poignant themes for disaffected later year university students (yes, really).
If you’ve been to New York City, in the midst of winter, then it’s truly hard to imagine a band whose sound could embody that milieu more appropriately. Try to argue differently after a brisk walk – face emblazoned with scarf and beanie – from East 9th up through Washington Square. Good albums aren’t mere collections of songs, they’re a single piece you need to listen to from start to finish – they take you on a short journey. Modern Vampires of the City takes you on such a journey, like some sort of beat-generation novel (maybe not On the Road, but certainly And the Hippos Were Boiled in their Tanks, sans murder). Or at least, that’s one way to look at it …
In all honesty, though, what you’re more likely to find in Vampire Weekend’s newest outing is an exemplification of musical maturity. There’s catchy, boppy electronica from tracks such as “Diane Young,” and quintessential preppy college rock in “Finger Back,” but there’s more to this buxom beauty. You’ll be back to listen to “Unbelievers,” “Don’t Lie,” and “Hannah Hunt” over and over again. Unlike their first album, Modern Vampires in the City takes a few deep musical breaths. There are tracks here which would sit well with some united, arm-linked swaying on a Tuesday night at Transit.
Most strikingly, the undergrads from Columbia have come of age; or maybe I’m just more terrified of the future now than I was before. The album is soaked in heightened anxiety and single-mindedly obsessed with time, and believe me, if you’ve been here for four years (or more), then you know this feeling too. It’s the feeling expressed by songwriter/frontman Ezra Koenig when he reflects, “I’m not excited, but should I be? Is this the fate that half of the world has planned for me?”.
So put that tweed jacket on and join me – and my intensely anxious outlook on the modern world and my place in it – in enjoying another thoroughly brilliant album from Vampire Weekend.