If you’re looking for an in-depth analysis of the 1995 Eddie Murphy classic Vampire in Brooklyn, look elsewhere. Instead, here’s something that’s almost as good. Modern Vampires of the City is the third release from Vampire Weekend, the indie pop foursome that’s getting harder and harder to classify. Lucky for them, that’s what makes them so great. Vampire Weekend’s sound has always been tricky to pinpoint. They started out a little Paul Simon-y, their second album was faintly electronic and now they’ve become something almost impossible to define because it’s like nothing we’ve ever heard. Modern Vampires of the City is an amalgamation of everything Vampire Weekend has done previously and then some. Ezra Koenig’s lyrics are more scholarly and insightful than ever, Rostam Batmanglij’s production is more ambitious, and the two Chris’ hold down an always steady rhythm section.
One of the most defining characteristics of Modern Vampires is its foray into baroque pop. Vampire Weekend had played with this classically romantic sound on past songs like “M79” but here it’s more refined. “Step” is a prime example with its sweeping elegance. There’s a great sense of maturity and growth on Modern Vampires but that doesn’t mean it can’t have fun too. It’s hard to think of anything more enjoyable than the oddly danceable “Diane Young”. Other songs like “Finger Back” and “Worship You” remind us that Vampire Weekend haven’t forgotten the playful punch of their first album. For an artist to grow and adapt without abandoning the sound that made them famous is quite an accomplishment.
I will say that Modern Vampires of the City may not feel as instantly approachable as the first two albums. It’s an unusual sound at first but if you have a pulse you should be able to adapt. I also miss the brevity of past Vampire Weekend songs but I’d sacrifice that any day for better songs. You know you love an album when you eagerly look forward to the next time you sit down and listen to it all over again. Ya Hey!
Favorite Tracks: “Diane Young,” “Step,” “Ya Hey”