Album Review: “Father of the Bride” is the first Vampire Weekend album in six years
After a grueling six year wait, Vampire Weekend has finally released a new album — “Father of the Bride.” Teasing the album since early 2017, the band left fans eagerly waiting to hear whatever the band had to offer.
Gone are the days of “Modern Vampires of the City,” with its grandiose style, or the preppy sound of their self-titled debut. The Vampire Weekend of new is more similar to the Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan,or Phish, showcasing their newfound jam-band aesthetic.
Lead singer Ezra Koenig had six years to reflect on his unfolding life, and “Father of the Bride” shows his development not only as an artist, but as a man. He seems more stress-free, loose and ready to sing whatever comes to him.
The songs on the new album seem to have less lyrical depth on first listen compared to Vampire Weekend’s previous albums, but upon a second or third run through of the record, Koenig’s lyricism reveals itself to be just as important to the soul of “Father of the Bride” than in times past. Koenig’s lyrics, direct and clear, exemplify the group’s new direction. Tracks such as “How Long?,” display this the most.
There are still glimpses of the old Vampire Weekend on this new record. The abstract lyricism of their 2008 debut self-titled album is found on songs such as “Harmony Hall.” Tracks like “Married in a Gold Rush” with Danielle Haim are reminiscent of “Contra,” with subtle electronic production flowing through the track. The song “Sympathy” reminds the listener of the bombastic and upbeat sound found on “Modern Vampires of the City,” reminiscent of “Diane Young.” Vampire Weekend have certainly not forgotten where they came from, but are looking forward all the while.
Many songs are simply brilliant and immensely enjoyable on this new album. The song “Unbearably White” is a laid back pop-rock tune, with its smooth and addictive guitar riff, that gets better with every listen. “Sunflower” with Steve Lacy has a tinge of scat music and is super fun to sing along to. The amount of catchiness on “Father of the Bride” is the most the band has had since their debut record.
One example of the band moving forward as a musical outfit is their inclusion of collaborations. Tracks with Danielle Haim and Steve Lacy taking up lead or supporting vocals are found all over “Father of the Bride.” Songs like “Hold You Now” with Danielle Haim, or “Flower Moon” with Steve Lacy remind listeners that Vampire Weekend are capable of collaboration without losing their identity, providing a breath of fresh air in the nearly hour long album.
The new, more “adult” sound that Vampire Weekend explores on this album finds the band wearing their influences on their sleeve. The ghost of Van Morrison can be felt on “This Life,” a cheery upbeat guitar-driven track featuring lyrics about cheating and comparing sadness to rain in California.
Undeniably, Vampire Weekend has changed. Most songs on “Father of the Bride” bear almost no resemblance to anything they have made in the past. The change is not negative, however, as many of the songs have wonderful replay value. “Father of the Bride” is a new Vampire Weekend, but one that has come into their own with age, changing for the better.