New Album from Vampire Weekend Sizzles.

Vampire Weekend's latest Modern Vampires of the City.

Vam­pire Week­end’s lat­est Mod­ern Vam­pires of the City.

We’ve been hear­ing about how impressed we ought to be with Vam­pire Week­end for a few years now. So it’s about time one their albums lived up to all that noise. Hap­pi­ly, this is the one that does.

Their first two efforts were dis­tinct­ly under­whelm­ing, and were far too read­i­ly dis­missed as over­priced MOR. Their third, Mod­ern Vam­pires of the City is a far more sub­stan­tial affair.

Though if you were hop­ing to dis­miss them as yet anoth­er hope­less­ly pre­ten­tious com­bo of stud­ied­ly casu­al pomo musos from you know where, then you’ll be grat­i­fied to learn that this is appar­ent­ly the third and final install­ment of a tril­o­gy, a trip­tych if you will. And yes I know, only the pre­ten­tious use the word “pre­ten­tious”.

On the always excel­lent All Songs Con­sid­ered pod­cast, which I reviewed ear­li­er here, the genial host sug­gest­ed in an extend­ed inter­view with them that this was a con­sid­er­ably dark­er col­lec­tion of songs. Which is a lit­tle mis­lead­ing. Vam­pire Week­end are to melan­cho­lia what Michael Haneke is to lev­i­ty and joy.

And yet, this is an unde­ni­ably weight­i­er work. With­out ever beat­ing you over the head with it, the fig­ure of Time lingers implaca­bly through­out, lurk­ing in the shad­ows. Many of Ezra Keonig’s con­sis­tent­ly impres­sive lyrics pon­der the inevitabil­i­ty of death and decay in a way that’s only pos­si­ble when you’re in your 20s and none of that sort of thing has any real relevance.

How­ev­er impres­sive it is lyri­cal­ly, it’s even more expan­sive­ly intel­li­gent and vora­cious­ly eclec­tic musi­cal­ly speak­ing. Indeed, if any­thing, they man­age to so suc­cess­ful­ly meld the many, many musi­cal influ­ences that it’s some­times hard to pick them apart. As the rapt review from the boys from Pitch­fork said, where it got an august 9.3 , the cho­rus to track 3 revolves around a sam­ple of a sam­ple of a sample.

The mandatory All Songs Considered podcast.

The manda­to­ry All Songs Con­sid­ered podcast.

Nonethe­less, the songs soar thanks to a com­bi­na­tion of those lyrics and the band’s abil­i­ty to con­jure up a string of infec­tious melodies. The best of which com­bine on that track 3 “Step”, where Koenig muses:

Wisdom’s a gift but you’d trade it for youth,

Age is an hon­our — it’s still not the truth.

You can see, hear and read the song on Vam­pire Week­end’s offi­cial lyrics video here.

Few lyrics can stand up to that kind of scruti­ny. Most would be ren­dered ridicu­lous and even embar­rass­ing. Far from being the excep­tion on the album, “Steps” is very much the rule. And Mod­ern Vam­pires of the City is sure to resur­face on many people’s Best Of end of year lists.

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