Vampire Weekend, Modern Vampires of the City

The new Vampire Weekend album is a sparser if more lush affair than it’s previous two outings. While Pitchfork reviewer Ryan Dombal is absolutely right in saying that the band has pared away the African world music influences, but they’re still there in the background. (His entire review is worth a read. Dombal knows his onions.) Perhaps because I was listening to it on a road trip this weekend, but I kept thinking the album echoed some of the quieter moments of Paul Simon’s Graceland. Echo isn’t the right word, maybe continuum is a better fit. There’s a twisting, faded line between Simon’s album through Vampire Weekend’s oeuvre. African world music is some of the sonic connection, but mostly it’s the storytelling troubadour wanderer at the center. Where the first album looked at East Coast sensibilities and movements and Contra spun out of that environ, this album is a more intimate affair, looking at the complexities of the everyday and how much it strips away from us. “Everlasting Arms” is an exploration of losing faith. “Step,” as Dombal examines, is the narrative of a band on the road. It’s a much quieter album, but I think it needs to be if indeed we’re meant to listen to the three albums as a trilogy of sorts or a giant concept album. I’ve always thought of Vampire Weekend as the sonic equivalent of Wes Anderson; meticulous, smarter than you or I, but ultimately captivated by story. This album reinforces that impression.

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