Album Review: Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City

The Upper West Side Columbia graduates of Vampire Weekend are, undoubtedly so, the reigning kings of Indie Rock. They exploded onto the indie spectrum in 2008 with their debut release, Vampire Weekend, catching the attention of critics and listeners internationally. The record received 4 stars from AllMusic, and Best New Music from Pitchfork. Their follow up record, Contra, was just as successful, debuting at the Number 1 spot on Billboard. Their latest release from XL Records, Modern Vampires of the City, has received equal acclaim, and rightly so.


The lighthearted indie rock, reminiscent of Ivy League schools and New York City, has remained prevalent throughout the band’s career. Their tribal drums, influenced by African pop, have been toned down quite a bit for Modern Vampires, but traces of it can still be found throughout the record.


For the first time in their career, however, the group utilizes samples. Found particularly in “Step”, pieces of lyrics and traces of the melody are taken from Soul of Mischief’s “Step To My Girl”. Driven by a beat borrowed from hip hop, accompanied by the ringing arpeggios of a harpsichord, and topped off with a conversational melody, this infectious track will stick with the listener.


Lyrically, the record is dripping with literary and cultural references. In “Ya Hey”, Ezra Koenig slides a Latin phrase into the chorus amid monosyllabic runs; it’s incredibly easy to gloss over the deeper content. Amidst the auto tone sounds, synthesizers, and chanting backing vocals, the middle of the song is not sung, but spoken as a poem: an anthem of doubt and disbelief.


Produced by band mate Rostam Batmanglij, Modern Vampires of the City portrays a natural progression for Vampire Weekend that comes with maturity. The lyrical content is embedded in allusions, not quite as straightforward as their past works. The music and vocal emotions are much more intertwined on this release, offering a greater impact on the listener, causing them to question the meaning behind every song.


If you haven’t purchased a copy yet, you can find Modern Vampires of the City on Amazon MP3 and Music or from iTunes.


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