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Adult Expressions

They are a well-heeled,sharply-dressed bunch of college-educated whippersnappers

Written by Prajakta Hebbar | Published: June 8, 2013 12:45:44 am

Modern Vampires of the City

Vampire Weekend (band)

XL Recordings

Indie rock

Rs 1,002 (Audio CD)

Rating: ****1/2

They are a well-heeled,sharply-dressed bunch of college-educated whippersnappers. Vampire Weekend,an indie/alt-rock band from New York,has often been accused of being “too well-read” or “privileged Ivy-league grads” influenced by world music. Indeed,in their first two albums Vampire Weekend (2008) and Contra (2011),the Afrobeat-influenced band have been drawing inspiration from their post-modern,fresh-out-of-college-turned-hipster lifestyles.

Now,the Vampire Weekend is back after a gap of almost three years with their new album Modern Vampires of the City. Recorded in various locations,including sundry apartments and flats in New York City and Los Angeles,Modern Vampires of the City is clearly an attempt to distance themselves from the sound they have become heavily associated with. Broadly experimental,the sound featured on this album is the result of a variety of unconventional recording assets — including pitch shifting — and is musically knowledgeable,the kind of music that reflects the current generation and their issues.

The album begins with Obvious Bicycle where vocalist and guitarist Ezra Koenig croons to a friend to the accompaniment of soft,rhythmic beats. The next track Unbelievers is a rolling,peppy number,with fast-paced beats where the singer wonders,“I’m not excited/ But should I be/ Is this the fate that half of the world has planned for me?”

Step is definitely one of our favourite tracks from the album. Liberal use of the harpsichord and simple beats,combined with post-college disillusion-induced lyrics like,“The gloves are off,the wisdom teeth are out/ What you on about,” make it a perfect song for a rainy afternoon. The next track,Diane Young,is a sprightly number oozing their earlier high-school rebelliousness. A happy song,it also has funky lyrics that go,“You torched a Saab like a pile of leaves/ I’d gone to find some better wheels/ Four,five meters running round the bend/ When the government agents surround you again.” We are definitely hoping to see this one in a soundtrack of some Hollywood blockbuster soon.

Don’t Lie and Hannah Hunt are soft,gentle numbers,with the latter talking about a young couple running away,without much forethought. Everlasting Arms is another one of our favourites. Reportedly inspired from a 19th century church song,this is one of Vampire Weekend’s numbers that clearly demonstrate their love for world music ,particularly Afrobeat.

While Finger Back is a retro number,with the rollicking drum beats,Worship You is a fast-paced number,where the words come on to you with the force and speed of

a hoedown.

While the next track Ya Hey talks about the Old Testament story of the burning bush,Hudson is a faux barouqe-pop dirge that talks about the river that divides the Upper East and Upper West sides in NYC.

Packed with 14 numbers,

Modern Vampires of the City is as much a story of a city,as it is a story of the modern youth who,despite education and experience,still finds himself disillusioned by the world. We have not yet been able to decipher the meaning behind the cover art of the album — a 1966 photograph by Neal Boenzi of the smoggiest day in New York City’s history,a day in which the air pollution killed at least 169 people. But Vampire Weekend has never been about tags or themes or even explanations. All they seem to be doing is to say goodbye to young adulthood.

Well,the gloves are off,the wisdom teeth are out and it is time to venture into the big bad world,but the music makes the journey so much more worthwhile.

prajakta.hebbar@expressindia.com

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