Up until today, my exposure to “Vampire Weekend” was limited for the most part to their 2019 hit, “Harmony Hall”. My son always told me he really liked their older music, even as it ran somewhat contra to his normal tastes, and I have to concur. I think the 2013 album “Modern Vampires of the City” is a fantastic album, and others appear to feel similarly, as it is album # 328 on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
I have seen several references to their genre as “indie rock”, but I find their sound to me much bigger, deeper and more well-rounded than music I typically associate with this genre, and very importantly with this album, it all starts with excellent songwriting. One of my very favorite songs is the album opener, “Obvious Bicycle”. I warmed up to it immediately, just as I think any artist aspires to occur with the first track on a record.
The next song, “Unbelievers”, which was one of the singles released, is a lovely up-tempo happy song, and it reinforces the good ambiance of this album. Things slow down a bit with “Step”, but the gorgeous descending melody that opens the track is remarkably appealing. Another single, “Diane Young” comes next, and it is a driving high-tempo rocker that incorporates a dance vibe along the way.
“Hannah Hunt” is an slightly unusual song that starts of with this unique repeating riff that blends the bass line from “One of These Nights” by the Eagles with the ocean feel of “Under the Boardwalk”. My listening was further brought to attention near the end of “Finger Back”, when I heard the first usage of the primary lyric for “Harmony Hall”. I don’t want to live like this… but I don’t want to die. I love hearing acts connect their work like this, and it helps me appreciate their larger catalogue.
“Ya Hey”, the other single from the album, is a quirky track that ultimately builds to a fairly dramatic conclusion in the end, and the album concludes with a short but sweet track, “Young Lion”, that transitions from piano to an apparent harpsichord, somewhat reminiscent of “In My Life” by the Beatles, but with Vampire Weekend’s own signature harmony vocals perfectly concluding the album.
As you can see, this record hit me cold and made me feel warm, and that sensation never gets old. One can never hear too much new music, even if it isn’t exactly new, and I’m grateful to add this album to my collection of favorites.