If “Vampire Weekend” and “Contra” sounded like the best final year party you’ve been to, then “Modern Vampires of the City” is a lot like the day after: slow, meditative and a bit melancholy. After all, what is there to look forward to after uni parties with Cape Cod prepsters, campus romances, and disputes with overly serious drama students, but an inevitable down of a career and conventional life? Given the age of VW crew, we may well say it is a quarter-life crisis album – occasionally great, occasionally mediocre, quarter-life crisis album.
“Step”, by far my favourite, captures the feeling gorgeously, reminiscing about youth years in the beginning and delivering some of the best lines VW have ever sung. It continues in melancholy and very good “Obvious Bicycle” and “Everlasting Arms”, which respectively delve on alienation and complicated relationship with religion. Religion is omnipresent on MVotC , most obviously in “Ya Hey”, and the relationship with God is always troubled: he is seen as distant, unloved yet somewhat of a guide and comfort in the overall chaos of the current world for the underemployed, almost “lost” generation of Millennials. The only songs that break from the slow mood, despite their preoccupations with mortality, are “Diane Young” and “Finger Back”, the former good, albeit a bit of an acquired taste, and the latter forgettable. There are no major flops, but I can’t see myself enjoying “Worship You”, “Hudson”, and “Hannah Hunt”.
All in all, VW have traded the jangle of the first two albums for more serious topics and more experimental sound (spoken word and voice manipulation feature prominently). The lyrical theme of the end of, well, innocence of early twenites, occasionally overwrought, does resonate , although there is no charm or exuberance of “Cape Cod…” and “M79”. An album definitely shows VW aging, but, as Ezra muses wittily, “age is an honour, but still not the truth”. 8/10 fangs