Vampire Weekend’s First Songs In 6 Years: Why It’s Like They Never Left


What had been you as much as on May 14, 2013?

Recording your self on Vine, the recent new app you'd heard a lot about, whereas doing the Harlem Shake? Catching up on the most recent "Blurred Lines" controversy? Looking ahead to Kanye West's Yeezus SNL efficiency that coming weekend? Vampire Weekend was releasing Modern Vampires of the City, their third album in six years. Like clockwork, these arrived in two-year intervals and had been all fairly glorious. They went on tour and gained a Grammy, and spent the subsequent six years releasing precisely zero new songs. Until right now. 

As promised final week, the much-mythologized indie band simply shared a pair of songs and introduced a brand new album. When Father of the Bride arrives this spring, it'll face some lofty expectations, constructed up over that six-year sabbatical. This is their first main label mission, after leaving XL Recordings for Columbia after Modern Vampires. They've gotten invited to carry out on SNL on every of their three album cycles, and so they've posted better first-week gross sales with every successive LP, a uncommon feat straddling the obtain and streaming eras.  

Now to these new songs. There's "Harmony Hall" — the longer, fleshier, undoubtedly extra "lead single" of the 2 — and "2021," an interludey, minimalistic lullaby. The latter seems fixated on the longer term whereas the previous is sure to induce flashbacks.

'Harmony Hall" ends its euphoric refrain quoting "Finger Back," an album minimize from 2013's Modern Vampires of the City

"I don't wanna dwell like this, however I don't wanna die."

That lyric caps off "Finger Back," a herky-jerky, Talking Headsy-reggaeton romp of aggression and devotion. It seems inside an anecdote about an Orthodox Jewish woman catching the attention of a man, presumably Arabian, working at an Upper West Side falafel store. When it reappears in "Harmony Hall" (fairly probably named after a constructing at the band's NYC alma mater of Columbia), it closes a refrain centered on paranoia and the passage of time:

"Of depraved snakes inside a spot you thought was dignified / I don't wanna dwell like this, however I don't wanna die."

So much has modified with Vampire Weekend, too. Founding member and jack-of-all trades Rostam Batmanglij left the band and three new touring members joined. Koenig and Rashida Jones welcomed a child boy, the primary baby for every of them. In much less weighty devlopments, Koenig continues to be vibing with Futura, however lately launched an Instragram devoted to Jokerman. 

Vampire Weekend could have been with out new music for six years, however Koenig made positive its spirit caught round if you happen to knew the place to look. He hosted his personal bi-weekly Beats1 radio present, Time Crisis. He created the satirical New York-inspired anime Neo Yokio. He co-wrote new songs for the sequence, for final yr's Peter Rabbit flick, and for one of many decade's greatest pop albums (extra on that in a second). One place he did all-but-disappear was Twitter and, to be sincere, we haven't really recovered from that one. 

Though he was typically behind the scenes, staying within the sport saved Koenig sharp. Alternative radio in 2019 is dominated by a litany of guitar-agnostic popsters who sound just like the umpteenth xerox of Lovelytheband and Foster the People — a pattern with simple roots in what sounded daring and experimental on Modern Vampires of the City. But Vamprie Weekend has been on a special wavelength for a while. "Guitar's not lifeless," Koenig cheekily proclaimed in a band replace in early 2017. Later that year, he mentioned country-folk storytelling, notably the readability of Kacey Musgraves, was influencing his new music. On Time Crisis, Koenig and his company would typically riff on the unlikely enduring coolness of the Grateful Dead and the dad rock universe at massive. As Vampire Weekend poked its head out and returned to the stage final yr, "eight Minute Cape Cod" — the concept of the OG Vampire Weekend tune going full jam band — grew to become a viral crowd request (additionally they performed "A-Punk" thrice in a row at Lollapalooza). 

Wouldn't you realize it? "Harmony Hall" sprawls out with lush symphonies, communal vibes aplenty. It begins with light acoustic guitar harmonics and a few of the plainest, most direct lyrics Koenig has ever sung: "We took a vow in summertime / now we discover outselves in late December." Saloon piano barrels in, channeling the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy For the Devil." And the "Harmony Hall" harmonies — they're definitely worth the worth of admission, together with the Graceland and Peter Gabriel spirits they echo. Those influences have been known as out in Vampire Weekend because the starting, however right here they sound, one way or the other, fully new. 

And we are able to get deeper. "Of depraved snakes inside a spot you thought was dignified" — that's one other line of the refrain, which at a look, nods to the one's serpentine art work. But shut Koenig followers know that he, ever the English nerd, has some favourite phrases he calls on repeatedly. "Wicked" is close to the highest of this listing. Remember when he wound up co-writing "Hold Up," the reggae-tinged second observe on BeyoncĂ©'s Lemonade? "Can't you see there's no different man above you? / What a depraved option to deal with the woman that loves you."  That all began when he tweeted some off-the-cuff lyrical riffs and took them — together with that couplet — to a studio session with Diplo, who evetually took them to BeyoncĂ©. Again, we actually want this man again on Twitter. 

We might additionally get into how that phrase pops up in Neo Yokio dialogue (together with "elegant," one other favourite that's virtually assured to look on the album) or how "Harmony Hall" follows the alliterative title of "Hannah Hunt," one other callback to Koenig's time at Columbia (she was a classmate of his). Or how the theme of years passing can also be unavoidable in "2021." But these are solely two songs of a promised 16. And we've solely acquired a lot time.