Vampire Weekend
Father Of The Bride


3.0
good

Review

by Kirk Bowman CONTRIBUTOR (65 Reviews)
May 3rd, 2019 | 166 replies


Release Date: 05/03/2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: When I was young, I was told I’d find one rich man in ten has a satisfied mind, and I’m the one.

What it means to be sincere and what it means to be ironic has changed in the years since Alanis Morrisette sang about it. When Vampire Weekend started, that song was only ten years old. Now, hundreds of thinkpieces, millions of sales, and one very influential aesthetic later, "Ironic" is old enough to drink and start a pretentious but well-intended band with its rich college friends. At this point, its life is long enough for it to write a songbook. And they did. Vampire Weekend was a debut that shook the world, Contra was a refining step towards a more mature future, and Modern Vampires of the City was a messy, angsty and lovely mainstream success. Through these projects, a new sincerity has risen from their guarded origins, emotion first hidden, then leaking out, then covering everything. Lyrically, it's always been hard to tell what they're talking about (a notion only confirmed by lead songwriter Ezra Koenig's very odd social media personality, dismissing any hopes anything was literal), but musically, more and more feeling crept in. Their initial success bred off of the controversy over whether or not they were really bragging about being rich, and whether that was ok, and the just-a-little-too-early announcements that this meant rock was dead. But what kept them in the conversation after that boiled over were the songs that touched people’s hearts, even when we still didn't really know what anything meant. It didn't matter, because we all knew someone who was giving up the gun, someone we could never love, in spite of everything. It was too beautiful to not feel anything.

Father of the Bride bucks this trend. The words Ezra sings are ones any listener could apply to their lives without an Ivy League education, but the notes played are ones that ultimately won’t resonate with that many people. These are, for the most part, simple songs, ones that sound more like the moods you have as you walk around your house or take a walk to the park. Virtually all traces of intense emotion have been erased, replaced with pleasant ditties and relatable circumstantial moods. As a result, this is the most guarded Vampire Weekend has sounded since their debut. This is not something for those who are hurt and looking for a space to cope with it, but something for those looking for a fun Saturday morning soundtrack. At times, it seems like it's breaking into something more - the stretch from gorgeous highlight "Unbearably White" to aching ballad "My Mistake" swells the heart, and is immediately interrupted by the frustratingly upbeat "Sympathy" - which literally opens with the line "I think I take myself too serious," as if to poke fun at their past. It's telling that they're teasing themselves instead of the entire world, and combined with this newfound peace and stability, it's clear that they're more mature. In creating an album for those who are secure, they have certainly satisfied much of their fanbase, the part that grew up with them, learning about them from blogs in 2008 in their college dorms. Their newer, younger and therefore more emotionally volatile group, the 13-year-olds who cried to Modern Vampires on Tumblr in 2014, aren't likely to get as much out of it. If I wasn't clear there, that's not an insult to people who don't like this (if I have to discriminate against an age, I'd much rather target 30-somethings), just an explanation of what this album has that their previous work hasn't - consistency, manners and quiet - and what it's lost - passion, fire and tears.

Regardless of where listeners fit into my probably overly-presumptuous groups, or which of those trios of adjectives sound more appealing to you, none of it matters if Father just doesn't sound good. Far too many indie bands that broke in the 2000s have lost appeal in the past few years because they've stopped making music that interests audiences. Thankfully, there's plenty to capture attention here. Influences have expanded yet again, Ezra clearly likes music of various shades. There are three country-esque duets with Danielle Haim scattered throughout, apparently inspired by Golden Hour, and likely something to do with Chris Tomson and Chris Baio's previous band, Midnight Hours. Sampled artists include the highly influential Haruomi Hosono, famously intense Hans Zimmer and genre-blending iLoveMakonnen. Unlike pretty much any other album with all these ideas crammed in, it's not some inaccessible experimental LP. Studio trickery still makes for the occasional weird moment, with some sputtering vocal bits and pauses and odd instrumental choices, especially on the goofy "How Long," but these mostly just lead to an expanded palate backtracking these fun songs. The Steve Lacy-featuring single "Sunflower" is a bright spot in an already warm album, with a silly sing-song bassline vocalization section that is sure to extend any good mood, if not create one. "Rich Man" has a lo-fi production that sounds like "Young Lion" shed any trace of sadness and started playing with its pack. Even the weirder tracks like the slow, mostly instrumental "2021" are over before they overstay any welcome. Production is handled by mostly Ezra himself and previous collaborator Ariel Rechtshaid, as well as the frequently overlooked BloodPop, hip-hop mastermind DJ Dahi, and ex-member Rostam Batmanglij, among others. These pop-minded artists help keep this 18-track creation from becoming unwieldy, a double album under an hour. It's nice. Whether or not it stands up to the emotional peaks of their discography, it's still enjoyable.

That being said, it's hard not to feel like there's still something missing here. It's fine, but the little touches of beauty and depth are almost more frustrating to hear than if it just gave up entirely. Here's a quote from the Contra era, discussing its album art: "The picture is from 1983, but the last album cover was from 2006, and they kind of look like they both inhabit the same world. When we saw this image, we just found it very striking … we were immediately struck by it, and we all had our own interpretations of what her look was, but we just kind of felt like it fit the album and the theme of it. It made sense to me that the first album had an inanimate object on it, and this one has a person's face on it." This extreme effort is reflected in the next project, which expanded its scope a bit and fell into the past that it referenced. Technically, this one expands as well. Now, it's a literal world - but not a serious one, just an obnoxious graphic. It's playful, appealing and wholesome, but not much else. This may just be album art, but the look has always been central to Vampire Weekend. Image is important to them because it's all important. This is the moment they stopped taking themselves seriously, and the reason it still at least mildly succeeds is because they took that change seriously. There’s sincerity to their agreeableness, but a cruel irony in a band becoming what the world thought it was from the beginning.



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user ratings (240)
3.4
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
granitenotebook
Contributing Reviewer
May 3rd 2019


967 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

took my best efforts to not make this entire review about rostam's 2017 solo album half-light which everyone should listen to if they like old vw and not this

source for quote: https://www.songfacts.com/facts/vampire-weekend/i-think-ur-a-contra (couldn't find the original interview anywhere)

thanks bloon for checking over this

McMegaMountain
May 3rd 2019


294 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I agree. It's a good album, but definitely their weakest to me. Could have been much worse I suppose.

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
May 3rd 2019


17524 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

the lo-fi production of "rich man" comes from a sample of the gorgeous song "please go easy with me" (1962) by the sierra leonean artist s.e. rogie for what that's worth. will read this review more carefully, not sure what to do with this band anymore haha

samwise2000
May 3rd 2019


634 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Unbearably White is definitely the standout on this album so far for me

DoofDoof
May 3rd 2019


6315 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Only three songs I'd class as at all good - 'My Mistake', 'Unbearably White' and 'Jerusalem, NY, Berlin'

Gyromania
May 3rd 2019


28946 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

big letdown after modern vampires. expectations weren't super high tho as i don't think much of their first two albums either.

DoofDoof
May 3rd 2019


6315 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

'big letdown after modern vampires.'



Saddest thing was on my first listen Spotify ran the last track straight into 'Obvious Bicycle' which instantly sounded like most everything off this and so clearly better than any song off this too, it was like black and white into colour. And it came out six years ago. Sad times for VW.

nolerthebowler
May 3rd 2019


4096 Comments


Harmony Hall at the very least bangs, but my expectations aren’t hue for this one

DoofDoof
May 3rd 2019


6315 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Didn't like Harmony Hall at all

Point1
May 3rd 2019


744 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

All the Danielle Haim songs would be actually good if they were performed by Magnetic Fields instead.



Seriously tell me "Married in a Gold Rush" couldn't be a very deep cut on 69 Love Songs.

Pangea
May 3rd 2019


3174 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Not sure how i am going to feel about this

gryndstone
May 3rd 2019


1375 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

teetering between 6 and 7. Ezra's lyrics always have that intriguing slam poetry feel to em

Satellite
May 3rd 2019


25867 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

i hate this

juiceviaorange
May 4th 2019


750 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I knew Sputnik 2019 would hate this sort of off the wall album, and I guessed right that I'd love it. C'mon, everyone, Ezra can't be held down

encomium
May 4th 2019


34 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

this is so disappointingly average. i loved all the singles too :/

Divaman
May 4th 2019


4423 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Jeez, a 3, huh? I'd have thought that after all this wait, the album would be either very good or very bad.

Digging: Bayside - Interrobang

DoofDoof
May 4th 2019


6315 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

It’s very bad.

klap
Staff Reviewer
May 4th 2019


12197 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

this so obviously did not need to be 18 songs lol

SowingSeason
Moderator
May 4th 2019


32734 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I don't know this is kind of fun. It's clearly not the best thing they've done by a long shot, but this is cutesy in a way that isn't Relient K/Owl City levels of nauseating; it's kind of refreshing.

Digging: Low Roar - ross.

RadicalEd
May 4th 2019


9546 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Mh. So on first listen I thought the highlights (Harmony Hall, This Life, Jerusalem..., Stranger, Unbearably White) were really great and this could have been a very good 35-40 Minute album...



but oh my gawd, this has some horrible tracks. The two tracks with lacey, the tracks with Danielle haim are all so superflous and it feels like they had way to many different ideas that don't come together as an album at all.



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