With their 2008 debut album, Vampire Weekend introduced us to a view of preppy, east coast college life. As a college student when the album was released, I enjoyed and loosely appreciated the surfacey comparisons I was able to draw between their music and my own life. â€œI see you/Youâ€™re walking â€˜cross the campus,â€ Iâ€™d hum to myself on the way to Public Presentations, or â€œI donâ€™t give a f*ck about an Oxford comma,â€ Iâ€™d think during English 113. The music was light and fun â€“ just like college itself.
But with their new album, Modern Vampires of the CityÂ¸ the band really seems to have matured and made it their mission to push their songwriting as far as it will go. Resulting is one of the most inventive, dynamic and best albums Iâ€™ve heard in ages. Each song is its own little world and you never get the feeling of â€œheard one song, heard them all.â€ In the past, the band has incorporated everything from Afro pop-inspired beats to tight punk elements into their music. On this album, they go even further with hints of early hip hop and classical (â€œStepâ€), reggae (â€œYa Heyâ€) and even a little rockabilly (â€œDiane Youngâ€). On paper, it doesnâ€™t sound like it should work. Yet they adapt these styles to their music in their own unique way, creating a wonderfully unique sound.
The lyrics also really hit home for me on quite a few of the coming-of-age songs. As a 2009 graduate, I initially found myself, along with countless other educated, 20-somethings, unemployed and unable to even get a minimum wage, no-degree-required job, which the band sings about on the opener, â€œObvious Bicycle.â€ Frontman Ezra Koenig sings, â€œYou ought to spare your face the razor, because no oneâ€™s going to spare the time for you/You ought to spare the world your labor, itâ€™s been 20 years and no oneâ€™s told the truth.â€ Bookending the album nicely, Modern Vampires concludes with â€œYoung Lionâ€ on which Ezra repeats, â€œYou take your time, young lion,â€ which seems to be a word of comfort directed to the unemployed kids in â€œObvious Bicycle.â€
Though nearly every song on the album is excellent and I never felt the need to prematurely skip to the next track, there were still some obvious standouts. â€œHannah Hunt,â€ a simple, minimalist song that features just piano, a little bass and Ezraâ€™s delicate vocals, finally explodes at the end where he nearly shouts, his voice growing frantic. The more fast-paced tracks, â€œUnbelievers,â€ â€œWorship Youâ€ and â€œDiane Youngâ€ are great pop songs and just a lot of fun to dance around to. These songs are immediately pleasing and also incredibly respectable when you break them down and realize how they were composed and just how complex they are.
Though I realize weâ€™re only half way through 2013, Iâ€™m declaring Modern Vampires of the City to be the best album released all year.