With their third studio album, Columbia grads Vampire Weekend have solidified a style that they have been perfecting over the course of the last five years. Modern Vampires of the City isn’t so much a departure from Contra and their self-titled album; rather, it builds off of the two albums to get a sound that is refreshingly new yet familiar.
Unlike past efforts, the overall tempo of this album has noticeably decreased. The number of “slow songs” or slow-building songs on the album is much more apparent than it has been before. Opening track “Obvious Bicycle” is one such song, with keyboardist Rostam Batmanglij playing a melancholy piano riff over lead singer Ezra Koenig’s crooning voice as he bounces to and from falsettos. Of all the mellow songs on the album, “Step” stands out, with Koenig’s soothing vocals over a medley of piano and synthesizer progressions. Drummer Chris Tomson keeps the beat so strong and steady throughout the track that head-nodding or foot-tapping is impossible to avoid.
Tomson shifts about five gears up for the following song, “Diane Young” — a track that, along with the speedy rhythm of “Finger Back,” would be easily at home in either of the other VW records. Single “Diane Young” feels like a modern-day adaption of the swingin’ big band songs, with Koenig pitch-shifting the lyric “baby, baby, baby, baby right on time” over groovy guitar riffs and rapid-fire drums. There’s even a “Wipeout”-esque drum and guitar roll thrown in — just in case your head and hips weren’t shaking enough.
Modern Vampires of the City is the album that VW has been building up to. While it’s not always a constant ball of energy, the balance of warm melodies and funky riffs make for an appropriate and satisfying conclusion to the band’s trilogy.
Ian Birnam covers music. Contact him at [email protected].