Vampire Weekend’s social criticism has always been presented through the superficial trappings of wealth and privilege. Here, they extend their experiments with Modern Vampires of the City by bringing baroque and classical influences to bear against – and sometimes within – Madchester, pastoral folk, funk, and passages syrupy with AutoTune.
The chirpier rock of their earlier records leans further back again, but pokes its head in and out through the album. This isn’t a departure, it’s refinement.
Ezra Koenig presides over a vast thematic landscape, with anti-Semitism (Harmony Hall) and religion (Bambina) alongside relationships both soured (This Life, How Long) and sweetly promising (Rich Man). Koenig operates at a certain distance, making sure the audience never gets terribly close to the person himself. But on Father of the Bride, his illustrations of these personal moments are detailed and versatile enough that they slide neatly into the listener’s biography, like all the greatest pop.
Their increasingly slow approach pays handsomely. Each component in their dense arrangements makes itself available to ponder, and the band know when to hold back, littering FOTB with moments of surprise and delight that disappear forever, begging for another listen. At 18 tracks and a more languorous pace, FOTB could be a slog. But with a steady hand, Vampire Weekend compile their strongest record yet.
Father Of The Bride is out May 3 via Sony.
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