Over 15 Years and four albums, how do the Vampire Weekend rank up?
Vampire Weekend have been one of the most successful and influential Indie bands of the past 10-15 years, generating a legion of fans both sides of the Atlantic, with a constantly evolving sound it’s a tough challenge to rank the NYC Indie darlings but here we go.
4. Contra (2010)
This is not a bad record by any stretch just in contrast to the greatness of the groups 3 other albums it feels more middle of the road. It does have its high points and was well received by critics and fans. Certainly in the singles department this is the weakest VW release, missing it’s “A-Punk”, “Diane Young” or “Harmony Hall” track and this is perhaps where the record falls down as it is still an immaculately put together selection of tracks and its influence and reception may well increase in years to come. It is an important record in the bands catalogue showcasing the transition from their debut through 2013’s “Modern Vampires of the City” and elements of both records are present. “Horchata” and “Holiday” are particular highlights.
3. Vampire Weekend (2008)
This is where ranking Vampire Weekend’s output becomes a horrendously difficult task. 3 of the groups 4 records are astonishingly good.
This record really holds up well 12 years after its release, “A Punk” remains one of the groups signature tunes and for good reason and the opening riff still sounds great. Others such as “Mansard Roof”, “Oxford Comma” and “Cape cod Kwassa Kwassa” still sound fresh. The contrast to the later releases works really well in this records favour as it is so vibrant and sunny and gives you a feel for Ezra Koenig’s gift as a lyricist and instrumentalist with its unique underappreciated guitar sound shining throughout. It’s an incredibly mature debut that really captures a moment in time and the joy of being young. It was such a different sound from many of the late 00s indie/alternative bands that it meant this band would become one of the defining groups of its era.
2. Father of the Bride (2019)
A resounding triumph of a comeback record and one of 2019’s best indie records. Father of the Bride combines elements of the groups previous successes and builds on these while taking the groups sound in exciting new directions. A move from New York to California has reportedly been a big reason for the success of this transition.
Danielle Haim guests on a number of tracks throughout singing co-lead on a few tracks and appearing as a backing vocalist throughout, she never steals the limelight from Koenig and the harmonies the two bring really bring a different vibe to the record. “Married in a gold rush” and “We belong together” showcasing Haim’s influence. “This life” and “Harmony Hall” are two of the records most played songs both showcase Koenig’s guitar prowess with a majestic intro on “Harmony Hall” which really puts Koenigs vocals front and centre with a gorgeous piano solo midway through.
The album boasts a really intriguing change in direction which hopefully Vampire Weekend continue to build on with record no 5, “Flower Moon” being one of my favourite tracks from a record packed full of great tracks encompassing a range of influences from Electronic and Americana to folk and pop.
1. Modern Vampires of the City (2013)
Modern Vampires of the City has appeared on a range of best of the 2010s lists drawing comparisons to classic records such as Sgt Pepper and Dylan’s Blood on the tracks at time of release. It is a really contrasting record to every other Vampire Weekend release. The jump in sound really works in its favour with its eerie ethereal qualities really conjuring up a unique soundscape. Elements of previous sounds do still pop up on tracks like “Diane Young” and “Unbelievers”. The sound is more emotive and personal than anything the group had attempted or achieved on their two previous albums.
“Obvious Bicycle“ is a beautiful album opener and the quality really doesn’t let up one inch with a selection of really beautiful songs that really show that Koenig has a gift for songwriting. The contrast to the previous records means it’s perhaps not going to sit atop all fans lists but it is certainly a soothing and melancholic listen that has more than a hint of Radiohead to it and is the clearest example of the range of influences for Vampire Weekend that would continue to be shown on “Father of the bride” and have made them one of the most interesting Indie bands today.
Words by Chris Connor