NYC art-rockers get their wisdom teeth to go with their fangs.
Vampire Weekend had already released two decent albums prior to Modern Vampires of the City. But, to these ears, they just seemed a wee bit too earnest. It was as though they were trying a little too hard to be the coolest kid in school. I found them easy to admire, but difficult to love.
With Modern Vampires of the City, they came of age. Suddenly, it was as if they felt totally comfortable in their own skin. The result was an album of twelve impeccable tracks, all of them beautifully crafted. First single, Diane Young, was urgent and frantic, full of twitchy energy and superb punning (Diane Young/dying young).
Preceding that on the running order is Step, arguably the finest moment on the album. It is like some kind of baroque, chamber music that ascends and descends down through the scales wonderfully, all accompanied by an amazing vocal performance from Ezra Koenig.
Don’t Lie and Hannah Hunt take up the baton from there. The former building from a swelling organ accompaniment into a soaring crescendo; the latter beautifully simple, superbly crafted and again growing and flying.
Actually, I could list all twelve songs and call them out here, it’s that good. There are no weaknesses, no flaws. Koenig’s lyrics are just the right kind of clever – masterful in fact. Musically, the band are on top form.
And, as is the case with several albums on this list, the cover design is superb. Here, we get New York looming through the smog and it is breathtaking. And in my vinyl copy I was lucky enough to get a poster of the album cover, which is a lovely bonus.
In summary, Modern Vampires of the City is a marvellous album. Little did we know that they could get even better.