Vampire Weekend's "Modern Vampires of the City" Review

By Sam Johnson
On March 28, 2014

  • Oh the drama llamas strike again. Let's talk in percentages (perhaps the editors need some business classes to brush up on that). This proposed increase is less than 1% of the in-state tuition, let's not even talk about the out-of-state. I do agree that more effort should be made to raise money, as that was what was promised. I also agree that defaulting to charging the students more money is a poor policy. But in all seriousness, this isn't nearly important enough to cause a loss of the students' trust. Personally I lost mine a long time ago, but it wasn't for anything as trivial as $160. As to the proposed idea of charging just the business students, please. Trust me when I tell you that Kingsbury Hall, where I spent my time at UNH, was paid for by all students as well. How about dining hall renovations? Should people without meal plans not have to contribute? How about the mandatory activity fee? Shouldn't the athletes be the ones you support the gym and the Whit? You give the impression of not being a business student, yet your principles are pretty darn mercenary. Come up with some real alternatives, do some real investigation, and let's get together and synergize later. John 8

A dreary haze cascading over a desolate (or overpopulated?) black and white city provides the visual essence of Vampire Weekend's third studio album, "Modern Vampires of the City." As the band continues to grow and master its craft, it is clear that they have learned how to hone in on that charmingly peculiar sound that captures one's attention from start to finish.

The album opens immediately with Ezra Koenig's voice giving some stern wisdom to a friend who seems to be out on his luck and without a reason to groom himself: "You ought to spare your face the razor/Because no one's gonna spare their time for you." The title of the track, "Obvious Bicycle," is perfectly concluded with a delightful piano part that so effortlessly conjures up an image of a boy, obviously riding a bicycle to catch the departing ice cream man.

Koenig's thoughtful, poetic lyrics are complemented well with exceptionally memorable melodies that soar at times and more subtly impress at others. His smooth falsetto is so precise even in phrases where the melody moves rather swiftly. 

The grooving beats, that are the bread and butter of the eclectic, Benetton pop group, have reemerged in inspired fashion thanks to drummer Chris Tomson and bassist Chris Baio. "Diane Young" and "Finger Back" are tracks that summon you to your feet to dance the night away.

However, a song like "Hudson" is what really displays the band's maturation process, showing they have no reservations throwing in an eerie, militaristic sounding song.

Experimenting with playful or perverse (or both) sound effects is very risky business, but Vampire Weekend has a way of tastefully using various effects to add noticeable depth and intrigue to their work. "Ya Hey" is a track riddled with intense auto-tune and an "Alvin and the Chipmunk" modulated vocal that is just strange enough to be brilliant. 

The beautifully shimmering harpsichord was a pleasant surprise in "Step" and the reverb on Koenig's voice throughout the album has mysticism about it as if it is embedded within the fog blanketing the city on the cover. The vocals and music intermingle in such graceful continuity, leaving nothing out-of-place or out-of-synch.

Have you ever pondered whether or not the orthodox girl should fall in love with the guy at the falafel shop or whether you would trade wisdom for youth? Modern Vampires is an album that not only lyrically explores deeper, more universal themes, but also musically raises the ivy-league grads bar from being a fun and respected college band to one that is breaking ground ahead of their peers.

In "Hannah Hunt", Ezra Koenig sings: "If I can't trust you, then damn it Hannah, there's no future, there's no answer." But that's not an issue when he and Vampire Weekend have an even brighter and more successful career ahead of them as they do already.

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