The Peter Gabriel-referencing, African music-influenced, calypso-drenched hiccupping beats and relentless energy with which Vampire Weekend made themselves known seems so long ago now.
Indeed, the New Yorkers’ debut is over five-years-old. But the faint disappointment of its follow-up, 2010’s ‘Contra’ (Clash review), is firmly banished by a third album which could yet come to define exactly what heights this band is capable of scaling.
Melodic gifts are here in abundance: but the palette used to explore them has been vastly enhanced, Ezra Koenig’s vocals rich, varied and, at times, transcendental.
Having described this record as “darker and more organic”, it’s certainly true that Vampire Weekend has found a sonic subtlety that suits them.
Songs take unexpected diversions: the charging rhythm of ‘Worship You’, for example, is wonderfully offset by a distorted, intense and giddy solo, which slowly collapses into a multi-tracked wash of soaring vocals.
The sense of time having passed and scars having been gained is all over this album, not least on the truly stunning ‘Step’ (video below), with its fabulous refrain of “the gloves are off, the wisdom teeth are out”.
Any sense of irritation listeners may have experienced at the hands of previous Vampire Weekend efforts will be washed away by this breathtakingly perfect tune.
Rampant hyperbole may not be warranted by every single track here, although the howl unleashed towards the end of ‘Hannah Hunt’ deserves a mention.
But overall, ‘Modern Vampires Of The City’ conveys one hell of a sense of permanence from a band that once seemed ephemeral and frivolous.
Words: Gareth James
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