Vampire Weekend’s third album is unlike their previous two, but it’s fantastic.
Modern Vampires of the City is a more mature album made by four guys who are no longer just out of Columbia. Ezra Koenig, the band’s frontman and lyricist, has matured since the debut of Vampire Weekend in 2007 and follow-up Contra in 2010, and he has taken the lyrics with him.
After Vampire Weekend dropped, criticisms surfaced, pseudo-asking if the band had ever heard Paul Simon’s Graceland, referencing their somewhat similar sound. Vampire Weekend was a group of Ivy League undergraduates with a semi-elitist approach to music, an affinity for oxford shirts and boat shoes and a dozen good songs. Modern Vampires’ release nullifies those criticisms with a dozen undeniably great songs.
From Cape Cod and madras to religion and death, Modern Vampires is an incredible jump from the reggae-influenced albums of Vampire Weekend’s past, and for some, it could be shocking. Tracks like “The Unbelievers,” a song about apostasy and deciding what to believe in, and “Diane Young,” a play on “dying young,” are much more complicated, and relatively darker, than songs like “Walcott” and “Horchata” featured on their freshman and sophomore albums.
Along with different lyrical undertones, Vampire Weekend’s sound has changed from their traditional “Upper East Side Afro-pop” to a developed, urban-rock aesthetic. “Step” sounds western, pop-y and fresh, and “Diane Young” is quick and different while remaining signature to Vampire Weekend, almost reminiscent of their song, “Cousins.” The growth from Vampire Weekend to Contra was noticeable, but the growth from Contra to Modern Vampires was immense.
Vampire Weekend traded in the fun, ’70s African sounding “A-Punk” for the meaningful, break-up with God in “Ya Hey” (or “Yahweh,” meaning God). They abandoned the free-for-all in “Oxford Comma” for the morality battle in “Don’t Lie.” They transformed while remaining true to the band they’ve always been.
Polished, full and well worth waiting for, Modern Vampires of the City is no doubt the best yet for Vampire Weekend.