“Modern Vampires of the City” Vampire Weekend
Third album in what the group describes as a trilogy. Another strong set of smart, lyrically driven alternative rock-indie pop tracks, written by Columbia grad, singer/songwriter Ezra Koenig. Lots of layers musically and plenty of hooks, reminiscent of Paul Simon’s best solo work. The most mature of the three albums — with themes ranging from rapidly passing youth (band members are now in their late 20s) to tales of everyday life in New York City.
Recommended: 2, 3, 1, 4, 10, 7. No FCCs detected.
1. (4:11) Obvious Bicycle — Easygoing shuffle of a song. Simple, familiar faire from Vampire Weekend. Choir-like vocals encourage us to “Listen up – don’t wait” — setting the tone for the album and making this the perfect opener. ****
2. (3:23) Unbelievers — Up-tempo toe-tapper. Chugs ahead with great energy like a train on a track. Plinking piano. Inviting harmonies. A song full of hooks. ****
3. (4:12) Step — Set at a leisurely walking pace. Thumping drum and rhythmic bass line. Catchy harpsichord riffs. Lyrics are spoken and sung. Lots of Bay Area mentions in the first verse. ****
4. (2:40) Diane Young — Song title is a play on “dyin’ young” and also an apparent reference to a line of anti-aging beauty and skincare products. New spin on 1950s rock ‘n roll. Frantic rhythms. Cascading synths. Auto-tuned vocals that rise and fall. Great guitar riffs in lead break. ***
5. (3:33) Don’t Lie — Mid-tempo track. Pounding drums. Busy bass progressions. Classic-rock organ. Softly floating harmonies. Passing youth is key theme.
6. (3:58) Hannah Hunt — Quieter and airier. Lyrics about a couple who take a cross-country trip. Spare rhythm until lead break. Intimate vocals over synth strings, light piano and synth tones. Builds toward end.
7. (3:03) Everlasting Arms — Like a soulful Paul Simon song. Intricate, slightly tribal drums. Playful synth tones. Heartfelt vocals from Koenig. ***
8. (3:26) Finger Back — Amped up, march-like rhythm — with organ, synth and a flurry of vocals.
9. (3:21) Worship You — Galloping romp. Rapidly strummed guitar. Snapping snare drum. Vocals delivered at the pace of an auctioneer — with floating choruses accompanied by synth strings.
10. (5:13) Ya Hey — Chilling song. Steady beat. Prominent piano. Vocals echo through New York’s steel-and-glass canyons, with angelic choruses. Slightly annoying processed vocals like a baby’s wail repeated several times. ***
11. (4:15) Hudson — Eerie, dark, symphonic piece that begins with a mention of Henry Hudson’s presumed drowning. Prominent cello, strings and brass at times. Large church choir-type chorus. Also, machine-gun drums, ticking clock and industrial clanking pipe sounds.
12. (1:45) Young Lion — Simple, childlike closing hymn. Rich harmonies driven by a consistent bass line. Piano. Plus, the church choir again.