You could be forgiven for having forgotten about Vampire Weekend. It has been six years since the New York alternative group dropped their last album, the critically acclaimed Modern Vampires of the City, and with no new music in sight after each passing year, it seemed like time had passed them by. Not so, though, as Ezra Koenig and company are back with their fourth studio album Father of the Bride.
As has been the case with their other projects, Vampire Weekend is not a band that sits still musically speaking and are always keen to chance their arm so to speak with different styles and sounds. That is the case on Father of the Bride which sees the group delving deep into country, baroque pop and even hints of prog rock.
Tracks such as Harmony Hall and This Life retain that classic anthemic pop sound of their previous album, but it is with featured guest Danielle Haim where the group really explore new musical territories and, in this instance, it is country pop.
Hold You Now, Married in a Gold Rush, and We Belong Together all feature the Haim frontwoman whose vocals shine strongly, whilst the songs themselves are reminiscent of Buckingham-Nicks era Fleetwood Mac.
The experimentation continues with the presence of the Internet’s talented wizard Steve Lacy whose appearance on guitar and backing vocals on Sunflower and Flower Moon give these tracks a prog rock vibe with the former sounding like a lost Yes track thanks largely to Lacy’s guitar playing.
The boys in Vampire Weekend have always shown prowess in their ability as multi-instrumentalists whether it be Koenig on sax or Rostam Batmanglij on clarinet. They explore these talents more on Father of the Bride which led to some of the tracks having a baroque pop feel.
Tracks like Spring Snow with their clarinet and piano arrangement feel vintage in their presentation and show a band at the height of their musical maturity. Maybe six years is what was needed to get to this stage and if so it definitely was worth it for that track alone in what is one of the best songs they have put out.
Vampire Weekend has always been popular with the critics however with Father of the Bride they have delivered their most diverse and interesting album yet. This is their White Album given the range of styles on display across the eighteen tracks and the amount of experimentation with song structure and arrangement that goes on.
Six years is a long time between drinks for a band, especially in this streaming age where artists can be here today and gone tomorrow. Despite this danger, with this comeback, Vampire Weekend have made a big artistic statement and in doing so ensured people they are not done yet as a musical force. Far from it in fact.
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Released: 03 May 2019