Review Summary: Modern Vampires indeed.
Given the recent interviews New York’s indie-pop pioneers Vampire Weekend have given, it’s a miracle that Modern Vampires of the City, their third record, is even here at all. They’d been pretty quiet since 2010′s excellent Contra, and between vocalist Ezra Koenig toying with quitting music altogether and the rest of them getting rather angry at people dismissing them as “rich idiots”, it’s been a long three years for VW fans – one that the group promise on their website “will be worth the wait”.
We’ve heard a few cuts from the record already, a steady drip-feed of singles in the lead up to the album’s release. ‘Step’ was a soft, plodding ballad littered with harpsichord refrains, and the chaotic, nimble ‘Diane Young’ ran the spiky indie-rock of the group’s earlier records through a synthesizer to great effect. Most recently was ‘Ya Hey’, a poetic set of Koenig-penned lyrics accompanied by electro-pop tantalisingly hinted at on Contra. These well-chosen tasters give the best picture of what Modern Vampires is all about. It’s a step on from their first releases, and a little more challenging – but the argument is there that it could well be Vampire Weekend’s finest effort to date.
The group’s twee chamber pop returns in abundance on the likes of ‘Don’t Lie’, but it’s updated, tailored to the shifts music has undergone these past three years. In many ways Modern Vampires of the City couldn’t be a more appropriate title. They’ve adapted, cuts like ‘Step’ and ‘Diane Young’ littered with vocal manipulation and synthesizers, intertwined with the soft piano ditties of ‘Hannah Hunt’, which slowly blossoms into an intoxicating, pretty closing section. They’re still brimming with good fun, and though the record generally runs a lot longer than Vampire Weekend or Contra, it’s succinct and overflowing with charisma, seldom feeling bloated or overblown. ‘Worship You’ is a sprightly march full of mock pomp and bright vocals, whilst ‘Unbelievers’ is an indie anthem in waiting.
What Modern Vampires really does best is remind everyone the band indie rock has missed these past three years – a band once hailed as the most interesting group on the planet by NME. Their third album showcases their incredible talent for invention and arrangement, while also serving up some damned catchy chamber pop. It’s clear they’re no flash in the pan or one-album-wonder: Vampire Weekend are in it for the long haul, changing, growing, evolving. A mature record with depth that the group have only hinted at before. Welcome back gentleman, we’ve missed you.