“Modern Vampires of the City” by Vampire Weekend, marks a significant growth in the groups sound. More urban sounding than their previous world pop arrangements, the songs contain complex but airy vibes. From the use of chipmunk vocal effects on “Ya Hey” to the synthesizer used like a sitar in “Worship You,” invention can be found in every song, employing a wide array of musical styles, I feel the band has made an album that is connected with city life.
Opening with the stunning “Obvious Bicycle,” the band has never sounded this serene or wise. It is a hushed ballad that establishes the bands new lyrical and instrumental direction. Singer Ezra Koenig pleads people to listen, grabbing them and prompting them on a musical journey.
“Unbelievers” mostly resembles the bands past music, but it also holds a pretty accessible message about religion. With a bubbly folk rock structure, it focuses on how religion condemns those with different opinions. “Step” is among the strongest cuts on the album, as it is an intricate hip-hop song backed by harpsichord.
In the past, the bands music had a more controlled sounds. The grooves here are looser, and are at times pitched to a whisper. Synthesizers warp about and sound weary, sounding like an organ at a funeral. There is a noticeable growth in Ezra Koenig lyrics, discussing issues such as religion and the turbulent nature of relationships. Though the subject matter is sometimes sad, there is always a hint of humor to pick it up.
“Finger Back” ignites at the speed of a cruising train, with tons of word play and an incredibly fast tempo. It is showcase for Chris Thomson’s drumming talents, with a more powerful thud when compared to past recordings. Perhaps one of my favorite songs on the album is “Worship You,” which plays like an Irish river dance song. This song particularly shows Koenig’s growth as a singer, able to drive through dense lyrics in short bursts.
Out of all their albums, this is the most assured and complex. It even strikes emotional chords, which was something that didn’t exist in their past work. Seems to be fixated on mortality and the audacities of life. Every song feels full and complete, and there isn’t a bad song in the bunch. This is one of the best sounding rock albums in a long time, as it is rich in instrumental detail. “Young Lion” ends the album on a grand note, with harmonies evoking The Beach Boys. Man have I missed songs that utterly lift you up in sheer beauty.
(4 out of 4 stars)