VAMPIRE WEEKEND Father of the Bride gets 8/10

Vampire Weekend
Father of the Bride


Vampire Weekend have shared a new vision with us. Much like their old stuff the new album pairs hysterical pacing and lyrics with vibrant musical hooks. Their first studio album since Modern Vampires of the City (2013), it may not have been an express delivery but this double feature 18-track album was worth the wait. Named for the 1991 Steve Martin movie, Father of the Bride (a remake of the 1950 version with the same name), the theme of marriage and relationships trails through the album, ultimately compiling into a picture of the confusions of love, settling down and the reality of living your dream.

Father of the Bride was the first album to be completed since multi-instrumentalist and producer Rostam Batmanglij’s departure from Vampire Weekend in 2016. Batmanglij, Ezra Koenig, Chris Tomson and Chris Baio formed the band in 2006 when enrolled in Columbia University, then went from college kids to Grammy Award winners within a couple of years. Along with other collaborators such as Steve Lacy, Dave Macklovitch, DJ Dahi, Sam Gendel, Blood pop and Mark Ronson, Batmangjli still features in this album on a few tracks such as We Belong Together and first single Harmony Hall.

The album opens with Hold You Now, its gentle acoustic licks rolling into an ocean of choir voices and producing a song that could walk you down the aisle. The lyrics, however, describe the fleetingness of relationship fulfillment. Hold You Now, along with other tracks such as We Belong Together and Married in a Gold Rush feature Danielle Haim from band of sisters HAIM, singing lead with Koenig. Starting the album off with a duet is a sign of the band’s new direction and Father of the Bride is the first Vampire Weekend album to include guest vocalists. The album juxtaposes folk music, which conjures up feelings of the springtime, against lyrics that seem mature and melancholic. There is an aura of ‘well this is life, live with it.’

Vampire Weekend have a distinctive sound: not only can you spot Koenig’s vocals from a mile away but their youthful bouncing strand of pop has stayed unique. Father of the Bride is a diverse album within the band’s catalogue – in comparison to their first album and second record Contra, it is certainly less youthful and energetic, and more haunted like their last album Modern Vampires of the City but with a more genuine cynicism about life.

Another notable difference between this and older Vampire Weekend records is each individual song has less of a medley of worldly music, and the overall album has more of a unified structure. The later tracks on the album, specifically My Mistake and Sympathy, hold a darkness and bluesy tone that give the album a more spatial feeling. My Mistake is a much slower track; distorted by sounds of water giving an impression of someone drowning, it’s haunting, reflective and far more spacious than others. Sympathy meanwhile, with its flirty Spanish guitar, rolling drums and chorus vocals conjures comparisons to the Rolling Stones’ dark classic Sympathy for the Devil.

Father of the Bride is a revealing album, which although keeping with Vampire Weekend’s distinctive sound, has still made substantial changes to how they operate and will continue to evolve.