Review | Vampire Weekend - Father of the Bride
Vampire Weekend have cemented themselves as one of this generation’s most essential bands. But after a quiet six years, their music is still learning to evolve.
From the beginning of their four album discography, Vampire Weekend have always focused on the clever manipulation of both sounds and expectations. Whether it was their culture-crossing blends of African and Latino music with artsy, experimental pop, or their confusing public image.
All members of the band are Ivy League University graduates, and they play with the expectations that come with that in a most wonderful manner. Frontman and vocalist Ezra Koenig’s lyricism walks a fine line between endearing and pretentious, whilst their music seems fine tuned yet so full of excitement and wonder.
In the years since their 2013 album Modern Vampires of the City hit stores, the band has undergone major changes. Whether it is Ezra becoming a father, or Rostam, the genius behind a majority of their musical ideas, departing from the band, the effects of these changes are apparent on their new album, Father of the Bride.
The album feels like a collection of wildly different influences twisted to follow a very strange, warm and wondrous aesthetic. Musically, it’s decently scattered, but as a principle rule, acoustic instruments (mostly guitar) are almost always the driving force. Father of the Bride leans towards an absurd combination of country music and indie pop music. It feels fleshed out, safe, yet an unsettling edge of worry can be felt throughout the album.
The lyrics expound on that, painting strange, fuzzy pictures of love, war, and rebirth. Koenig shows unbelievable versatility with his lyricism on FOTB, jumping from subject to subject and mixing emotions and thoughts with masterful strokes that strike of wonder, puzzlement and refusal to resign. The instrumentation reflects the emotional growth and complexity shown on the lyrics. Though the album is dominated by an acoustic springtime sound, it undoubtedly carries depth and layers.
Fleeting guitar lines and piano melodies lead the album, while percussion provides a wonderful rhythm that no longer feels quite as worldly as it once was. Electronics no longer play as major a role as they did on previous albums (Modern Vampires in particular), but they still are undeniably there. 2021 stands as one of the very rare moments on this album where acoustic instruments take the backseat in favour of a subtle synth line that dominates the entire track, which is full of deeply anxious emotions.
This Life, on the other hand, is a wonderful mixture of sunny, jaunty guitars and a supremely energetic drum beat (mainly handclaps). The lyrics are an entirely different story, painting a picture of uneasy love, unfaithfulness (whether literal or metaphorical) and self reflection. It gets sickly sweet at moments, which only emphasizes the strange, anxious aesthetic of this song.
The album, in short, feels like sunny anxiousness, like a warm, uneasy day of spring where things are a bit too bright, too fragrant. It’s a beautiful, anxious reflection on the many aspects of life that has very few, if any, low points. It’s another set of soaring highs from a band that have taught us to expect nothing less.
Best song: Sympathy
Worst song: Jerusalem, New York, Berlin.