By: Tim Coffman, Columnist
Photo courtesy of Esquire.com
Vampire Weekend is a rock band that brought their brand of indie rock to the masses in the late 2000s. Frontman Ezra Koenig’s brand of preppy singing and eclectic mix of musical styles led the band to become a critical favorite, while also having their songs used in movies like Step Brothers. After a six-year break from studio releases, how does their latest record compare to their previous track record?
For starters, the band has incorporated a much broader sonic palette to the table. Each track has a chill summer vibe and helps the listener to settle into a groove much quicker. The production on this record is fantastic as well, with collaborators ranging from Mark Ronson to film composer Hanz Zimmer. While these producers help in writing the material, Koenig has certainly not lost his touch as a songwriter. There is a certain cleanliness to his writing that can come a bit snide in places. The intricacies that he puts into his melodies on songs like “Harmony Hall” and “Sunflower” are astonishing. There are also tight tracks like “Bambina” and the album opener “Hold You Now” which have a slightly boyish charm to them. The album also has an easygoing flow to it, where each song sets up the next track very neatly. When most records throw songs together in a haphazard style, this album’s stresses the importance of the track order. While you may want to put this album on shuffle, it might be better just to listen to it from back to front. Overall, this record stays true to the band’s previous sound while incorporating new ideas to keep the sound fresh for hardcore fans.
The album does get a bit bloated though. The album contains about 18 tracks and you do tend to feel it after a while. There are some impressive highlights, but there are some songs that don’t seem to fit without the context of the album. It seems that Ezra Koenig knew that the band had been gone for a long time and decided that he was going to make the album long to compensate for lost time. While I commend the man’s enthusiasm, the result does leave a little bit more to be desired.
After a few good spins of this record, the album does hold up well with a few exceptions. When looking through the band’s back catalog, their previous seemed to have a few good songs, but didn’t seem to hold together as a coherent whole. While this feels like a much whole, some of the tracks just don’t seem to stick the landing as well as they could. If a few of the filler songs were omitted, Vampire Weekend may have made their best record. If you’re a fan, I would highly recommend it. If you’re not a fan but you liked the singles, I can still recommend it. While this record may not be Vampire Weekend’s best, it’s still pretty good for what it is.