Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City

Hey, you know who doesn’t sound like they can barely hold back tears every time they talk about their dead mother, even though she died nine fucking years ago? Why, it’s my old friends in Vampire Weekend. Just listen to these fuckers. Old school hip hop references/drums? Paul Simonized Afro-pop all over the place? Random allusions to Jerusalem? Sounding like the damned feeling of waking up on a summer morning? All of the above!

The bad news here is that they’ve actually given me a few reasons here to dislike them beside the fact that they’re obviously richer, better-looking and more musically talented than I am and totally, unquestioningly okay with it and free to spend their days in sonder and stargazing. The good news here is that there’s still a half dozen songs that lighten my heart and make me smile and get stuck in my head for ever and ever.

Look, not everything can be about introspection. I recognize that. They’re still somewhat singing about sleeping on the balcony after class, but the other focus here is on questions of religion. Which is a tough one, for me, as a total atheist. I’ll totally take “Unbelievers,” especially for that motown keyboard line, but “Worship You” gets a bit too close to genuine religiosity for me, even if I love to death the ultra-fast singing in the verses. Your mileage may vary, as most of the songs here are either about belief or disbelief. At least, the good ones are. There’s really only one song that sounds like the old collegiate days, and that’s the charming opener “Obvious Bicycle,” and even that’s pretty zen with its telling the listener to “spare your face the razor” and “spare the world your labour.” The problem for me, personally, is that I no such questioning of the existence of God, any more than I struggle with the existence of the Tooth Fairy, so “Ya Hey” wouldn’t impress me much if it wasn’t just stupid catchy, which it stupid is. So very stupid catchy that it makes me feel, and not feel anything in particular, except perhaps a love of the way it’s the heir to Graceland. But hey, it’s not as if there’s any actualy Reglious music here, just the thoughts of some 27 year-old Jewish guy, so don’t take it too bad, loyal reader.

There’s quite a few outstanding winners here. Songs that eclipse the entire outputs of lesser indie rock bands. Namely, all the first three songs – the aforementioned “Obvy Bike,” agnostic anthem “Unbelievers,” and old-timey hip-hopper “Step.” Lead single “Diane Young” is way too proud of its annoying vocal effects (the whole album in general, really) and silly pun on “dying young” to be any good, but the aforementioned “Worship You” and “Ya Hey” are some finger-lickin’ good vaguely religious numbers. “Finger Back” is a solid song save for its AWFUL OBVIOUS DUMB POINT (it’s literally a guy with a smug accent talking about “this orthodox girl fell in love with a guy at a falafel shop) bridge, and “Everlasting Love” has a nice intro, but I miss the clean guitar solos that used to be V-Dub’s hallmark.

There are a few forgettable tracks that don’t too much substance here (and “Don’t Lie” is an “M83” retread), but the out-and-out clunker is “Hudson”. Ye GADS what were they thinking? Hey, listeners: are you ready for the melody-free rambling verses and “suspenseful” movie soundtrack music? It sounds like a first-year art project! No es bueno! It’s actually among the worst songs ever recorded by human beings. Just the thought of it hurts me and someday I might be at a party and the host will be playing this album, and that night will be the night I get through out of a party for yelling about how much I hate “Hudson” and anyone who thinks it’s an any way tolerable.

So our talented friends are maturing, and the old times are not forgotten, but I can’t say I love the new lyrical direction, but I can deal as long as there are many great songs. Sounds good to you? Because I’m cautiously optimistic. Damned talented hipster fucks.

7 / 10

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