Thursday, September 26, 2013

Album Review: Vampire Weekend-Modern Vampires Of The City

Vampire Weekend
Modern Vampires of the City
** out of *****

The New York City heady quartet turn out their third collection of densely upbeat pop tunes while trying to peel back their "afro pop light" label. The stripped down production can devlop into some interesting tension periods but it feels like too many ideas are crammed into songs that simply can't hold them afloat.

There is no doubting this quartet's talent, each of the tracks here have flashes of greatness but missteps (while sometimes part of the fun) seem to hold things back. The upbeat bounce and horns of "Diane Young" is a potential show stopper that has a huge build in there somewhere but the schizophrenic changes muddle the power and drama. A track like "Everlasting Arms" plays the same way, things are going along swimmingly until a violin break comes out of left field and kills the vibe. Having worked with co-producer Ariel Rechtshaid (who is behind pop megastars Justin Bieber and Kylie Minogue) the dramatic shifts from bar to bar creating awkward changes; some of the tracks feel like they are targeted at an ADD mind.  

When things stay in one place like on "Don't Lie" the best results are produced as the band lets the song be the star. A sturdy beat, adult lyrics and the subtle barque harpsichord injection doesn't even derail things. Not all the sounds and musicality are freaky for the sake of freaky, "Ya Hey"has a great beat and lush production, even disregarding the squeaky chorus sample.

"Finger Back" plays with tempos, raw drum sounds and scratchy electro keys while silly lyrics and chirpy vocal style rollover the song. The frantic dance tempo becomes exciting before the unexpected uptown poetry break brings things down and then, when things start up, they stop suddenly. The band had a good thing rolling in the exuberance and the whimsy but then simply over thought it, like Modern Vampires of the City in general.  
Having heard the album when it came and wrote it off as not my thing, I was urged by someone I respect greatly to check it back out. Still not sold. I am clearly out of touch with the critical press on this one, but to me this sounds scattered, light and experimental in an unfulfilled way.  Will give their next one a shot...but pretty sure I am in the minority with these guys.

Support them here, buy the album here and peep a sample below:
"Don't Lie"

"Finger Back"

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