Vampire Weekend releases long- awaited album after six-year hiatus

Shawn Anderson |  Flickr

Shawn Anderson | Flickr

Like every indie rock band from the 2000s that was successful, Vampire Weekend has finally ended its hiatus to return with a new album, Father of the Bride. In the lead-up to the release of the album, the band was able to keep its structure as a group, even with the departure of producer and instrumentalist, Rostam Batmanglij.

With this new release, the band has stripped its African worldbeat roots for a pop rock sound that is more mainstream; however that does not mean the album lacks creativity or enjoyment.

Longtime fans of Vampire Weekend will notice that Father of the Bride is a departure from the band’s early sound, found on its self-titled debut and second record, Contra. Instead, Vampire Weekend explores a much simpler sound that is easily accessible for most listeners.

The album includes the first guest appearances on a Vampire Weekend album. Danielle Haim of the band Haim makes appearances on the opening track, “Hold on Now” and then on “Married in a Gold Rush” and “We Belong Together.” Her voice alongside Ezra Koenig’s singing adds a layer of harmony that provides these tracks a little more life than the rest.

Steve Lacy of The Internet also makes an appearance on the single, “Sunflower” and “Flower Moon.” Both tracks that Lacy appears on come after one another on the track listing. As a result, these two tracks stand out due to Lacy’s inclusion and are a highlight of the album.

The album is able to keep a listener interested due to the simple song structures and instrumentation by the band.

Koenig has a very distinct style of guitar playing that is only amplified by the simple approach the band has taken for this album.This can be found on tracks, “Unbearably White” and “Harmony Hall.” The track “Harmony Hall” showcases Koenig ’s fingerpicking while “Unbearably White” showcases the catchy licks he is able to lay down to have them stuck in your head for the rest of the day.

Koenig’s singing also sounds incredible on this album. His style of singing perfectly fits the alternative rock pop sound the band showcases. On the track “Sunflower,” Koenig showcases his vocal range as he sings alongside the catchy riff of the track. On the ballad “Jerusalem, New York, Berlin,” Koenig’s performance is able to express a lot of emotion that ends the album on a high note.

Although the band moves away from the Baroque pop sound it is known for, the band explores different elements of pop music that is able to keep the band interesting to listen to.

On the opening track, the band includes a child choir and also samples "God Yu Tekkem Laef Blong Mi," composed by Hans Zimmer. This is most likely due to producer Ariel Rechtshaid, who has previously worked with artists like Madonna, U2 and Major Lazer.

The band not only changed the direction of its sound but also the lyricism on the album. The band brilliantly disguises the melancholic themes found on the album with the upbeat catchy instrumentals.

The track “Harmony Hall” discusses the increase of hatred against groups of people, in particular anti-Semitism against the Jewish community.

The track “This Life” has the tropes of a catchy summer song while being about a broken relationship. Koenig’s songwriting continues the witty and clever elements that fans have become accustomed to.

The album’s biggest fault is its length. At an hour long, the album tests the patience of the listener. The band finds itself coming off as bland at some points in the album. 

The album’s fifth song, “Big Blue,” is forgettable at best. It is disappointing for Vampire Weekend to move away from what made it interesting when it first came to the music scene; however, the band is still capable of creating an album that is enjoyable.

After a six-year wait, fans of Vampire Weekend are given an hour’s worth of content that will satisfy them until the next time the band releases new material. Father of the Bride, musically, is the band’s most simple-sounding album yet still manages to retain the grand sound that it has become known for.

The album has its low points, however, the strengths that the band encompasses is able to outweigh them. The songwriting and different levels of production is able to create an experience that is a good addition to the diverse discography the band has.

For anyone who had any doubts that Vampire Weekend was capable of staying relevant, this album is able to disprove those doubts because what this new project demonstrates is that the band is not going anywhere.