Hearing the news that one of your all-time favourite artists is bringing another album out induces both feelings of euphoria and dread in equal measure. With three excellent albums in their repertoire already, Vampire Weekend exceeded expectations with 2019’s Father of The Bride. It’s arguably their most ambitious project to date; an 18-track record with vocal and instrumental contributions from the likes of Danielle Haim and Steve Lacy.
With the departure of Rostam Batmanglij in 2016 it’s understandable if some fans were worried that the band would stray too far from the buoyant indie-pop of their debut and Contra. But thanks to a few production credits, it seems that Batmanglij wasn’t quite ready to cut all ties. On ‘Harmony Hall’, there’s no shortage of the signature baroque softness they perfected over a decade ago, paired with the usual identify impasse in its lyrics (“I don’t wanna live like this / But I don’t wanna die.”)
It wouldn’t be a Vampire Weekend record if it wasn’t dripping in nostalgia; Paul Simon-infused guitars and celestial harmonies are centre-stage. There’s a warm familiarity to the riffs, transporting listeners back to 2008 when the band burst onto the scene with cricket jumpers and lyrics about existential crises.
Yet Father of The Bride doesn’t scrimp on innovation. There are matrimonial country-inspired duets between Ezra Koenig and Haim on ‘Hold You Now’ and ‘Married in a Gold Rush’, funky springtime jams on ‘Sunflower’ with Lacy and an honest, mature take on relationships throughout.
Words by Holly Patrick