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May 13, 2013 | by  | in Arts Music |
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Modern Vampires of the City: First Impressions

1) ‘Obvious Bicycle’ – A wonderful track, no doubt, featuring cutting lyrics that include: “spare your face the razor / because no-one’s gonna spend the time for you”. OH SHEEEIT. However, as an ‘opener’ it is oddly placed; even more incongruous than the in-media res of Contra’s ‘Horchata’. To that end, I give you step one of how to tweak this great album: sandwich this in between ‘Step’ and ‘Diane Young’. Humour me—it gets good.

2) ‘Unbelievers’ – This starts off really cutesy and endearing, then woah what the hell they’re singing about love I thought they would stay indifferent 20-year-olds incapable of powerful emotions forever whaaaaaaaaaaat so confused help. ANYWAY. The sort of Celtic/Lord of the Rings soundtrack-type bit at the end reinforces their fascination with the ocean which is evident in so many of their songs, but apart from that one spark of insight, this song is ultimately just another pop ditty to be half-heartedly heard and forgotten.

3) ‘Step’ – My favourite of the teaser tracks. Ezra’s vocals make me melt and swoon every time, and concluding the song on a choral note is an innovative touch that represents the cherry on top.

4) ‘Diane Young’ – Instructions for listening to this song: put on white socks and sunglasses and slide around your apartment/shitty flat playing air guitar. Even though Ezra’s voice is almost comical in how far it gets (artificially) stretched in this song, his Elvis-like “baby baby baby baby” is utterly titillating.

5) ‘Don’t Lie’ – Some unexpected walking-bass grooves propels this song; kinda lacklustre vocal arrangements though.

6) ‘Hannah Hunt’ – Naaw. I wish my name was Hannah so that I could pretend they were singing this to me. The electric slide guitar is the perfect addition to the delicate instrumentation, and when Ezra (FINALLY) breaks out of his soft-spoken-ness at around 2.45, the song reaches the zenith that it so desperately craves throughout. While this is a great track, it unfortunately gets lost among the plethora of similar sounds on the album, so take some time to really pick it apart.

7) ‘Everlasting Arms’ – Of all the tracks on this album, this is the one that would fit seamlessly into Contra’s tracklisting, and it’s also the most ‘Vampire-Weekend-esque’ (buzzword!) of the tracks here. This is by no means meant derogatorily; au contraire, what with the swelling strings, interjections of guitar and ‘boom’ drums complementing Ezra’s wistful croon going on, if you’re not moved I recommend urgent medical attention due to lack of pulse.

8 ) ‘Finger Back’ – It’s always fun hearing Ezra experiment with how malleable his voice is, and this track is the perfect exemplar of this. I’m sceptical about the use of spoken words near the end, as it seems like a gimmicky attempt at accessing their inner poetry which they already do so naturally well with their lyrics. However, references to falafel shops should always be encouraged.

9) ‘Worship You’ – Unfairly ensconced between ‘Finger Back’ and ‘Ya Hey’, the temptation to skip it will be too much for some (myself included). Nothing of note going on up in hurr.

10) ‘Ya Hey’ – Not going to lie, I nearly cried a little bit the first time I heard this song. The lyrics are beautiful, and for once you can actually hear what he’s saying. While it retains that all too classic ‘Vampire Weekend sound’ of driving drums, catchy riffs, and soothing vocals, the addition of the choir adds an ethereal boost which achieves the solemnity they seem to be searching for throughout the album. However, I have absolute hatred for the weird chipmunk-voice thing (RE: traumatic experiences with ‘The Laughing Gnome’ by David Bowie).

11) ‘Hudson’ – if I was a betting man, I’d wager that this’un is the blueprint for Vampire Weekend’s future direction. It’s the closest the album comes to the ‘experimental’ umbrella, denoted by unfocussed drum work that begins shuffling, segues into jazz and pirouettes gracelessly into a kind of spastic trip-hop clutter. The lyrics are unusually macabre (“the water took its victim’s name”). Basically; it’s about as much fun to listen to as I imagine it was to create it.

12) ‘Young Lion’ – This closing track continues the band’s tradition of ending their records on a somewhat sombre note. I suppose it suits the overall existential futility of the record, but being reminded of how sad all of the preceding songs were just made me more sad.

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