Father of the Bride: by Vampire Weekend

High Notes

By Ron Powers

Father of the Bride by Vampire Weekend

Vampire Weekend’s latest album (Father of the Bride) is the band’s fourth studio album. It was released this year by Columbia Records, and is their first album with a major record label.

It’s been almost six years since we’ve heard new music from the Indie rockers. Father of the Bride follows 2013’s Modern Vampires of the City and is the band’s first project since co-founding member Rostam Batmanglij left the band. The new album features several collaborations with outside artists and shows the band pulling from musical and lyrical depths previously unreached. It features 18 well thought out and smartly produced songs; a few of which I’d like to highlight here.       

The record kicks off with the folk and country-influenced duet “Hold You Now”. This song features Danielle Haim who trades verses with lead singer Ezra Koenig. The song has simple lyrics sung with a wistful yet bracing melody. Its sparse musical arrangement includes acoustic guitar and a sample from a choral score by Hans Zimmer which was featured in the movie The Thin Red Line.

The jam-band-influenced “Harmony Hall” was the first single released off Father of the Bride. This song begins with rolling fingerpicked acoustic guitars over an ambient synth texture that makes you wonder if it’s going anywhere significant. However, once the pre-chorus hits, everything starts to make sense. This song, like much of the new album, covers territory previously unexplored by the band. It’s songs like these that make Father of the Bride the groundbreaking album that it is.    

My favorite track on the record is called “Bambina”. It’s remarkable how much life and energy has been packed into this little song. Coming in at a brief 1 minute and 42 seconds, “Bambina” leaves you feeling refreshed and happy. It’s the kind of song you can listen to three times in a row.

Vampire Weekend presents ideas through their music in subtle and tasteful ways. This is vibrantly evident on “This Life”. At first glance it’s easy to mistake the song for an easygoing “Brown Eyed Girl” type of tune. But when you listen to the lyrics, a biting edge emerges. This contrast between music and lyrics comes up throughout the album. The more you pay attention to it, the more it gives.   

Much of what makes Vampire Weekend great, hinges on what Ezra Koenig sings about. It’s interesting and at times illuminating to hear what’s been rattling around in his head. “Big Blue” is a particularly interesting moment on the album. Previous Vampire Weekend releases showed the band expressing strong anti-religious sentiments, but “Big Blue” reveals a different side. One that is less certain about how things work and more honest about the ambiguity of existence.

Father of the Bride is a good album to listen to in most any situation. However, if you’re able to devote an evening to it, I recommend it. There’s a lot to soak in on this album. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Vampire Weekend is currently on tour in support of the new album. You can find tickets, as well as links to their social media and merchandise at their website, www.vampireweekend.com.

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