Clad in pastels, Vampire Weekend brought Ivy League prep sensibilities to indie rock in 2008 with their self-titled debut. After Vampire Weekend came the band’s 2010 sophomore record, Contra, and the New York City quartet continued their reign of springy pop songs with African rhythms.
The band’s third record, Modern Vampires of the City, is the final piece of the album trilogy. If their first self-titled album represented the freshman and sophomore years of school, and Contra represented the final two years of school, Modern Vampires is about being a post-grad. There is a clear growth from their first album five years ago. The boys of Vampire Weekend are finally men.
The album has incredible scope. The grandeur isn’t merely an illusion; it’s filled with nostalgia, adventure and a hint of fantasy. The record is a parade of sound, an assemblage of a dozen songs that explore the high highs and low lows of the city where the album was imagined.
Band members Ezra Koenig, Rostam Batmanglij, Chris Baio, and Chris Tomson created a magnum opus with Modern Vampires -- and they did it by being quiet.
There are upbeat tracks to appease fans, the best of which are “Unbelievers” and the cleverly titled “Diane Young,” but the gentler melodies are the ones that prove Vampire Weekend continue to grow as musical artists.
Modern Vampires’ best song is undoubtedly “Step.” It begins gently, with a sweet medley provided by piano and harpsichord, and dives into pleasing, smart lyrics. “Ancestors told me that their girl was better/ She’s richer than Croesus/ She’s tougher than leather.”
Modern Vampires puts the vocals front and center, from frontman Koenig’s primary singing to Batmanglij’s vocals on the two closing tracks, "Hudson" and "Young Lion,” with a haunting choir accompaniment.
Three albums in and Vampire Weekend seems to have a clear grasp on who they are as a band. “Modern Vampires of the City” is a seamless, near perfect record.