Vampire Weekend: Modern Vampires of the City

28 Dec

I usually have about a one or two-song tolerance with Vampire Weekend. I mean, I can listen to a song of theirs (“Cousins” is great) and quite enjoy it – really enjoy it, even – but after that I find that their particular brand of Upbeat Quirky quickly becomes Upbeat Boring when consumed in large quantities. Maybe it’s their mediocre use of dynamics; maybe it’s their lack of emotional complexity; maybe Ezra Koenig’s voice really is that irritatingly twangy… but listening to a whole album of Vampire Weekend at once has never been an enjoyable experience for me.

ModernVampiresOfTheCityAnd after a promising opening with “Obvious Bicycle” – a chilled, British-rock-style track with a lovely, souly chorus and uncommonly enjoyable vocals from Koenig: falsetto, layered harmonies and even a rough, John-Lennony texture lent to his voice – I sadly report that I found Modern Vampires of the City only a little less (although possibly more) unpleasant than the band’s previous work.

The childish zaniness of Contra is muted in this album and replaced with a vague boringness that, in its own way, is just as irksome as the former (or, as aforementioned, maybe more tiresome for being less interesting). Although “Unbelievers” is a fun, catchy song, its steady, pop-folky bass drum and obvious accessibility lend it an unfortunate liking to the laughable Mumford & Sons. Later tracks bear a woolly resemblance to early Arctic Monkeys, only with none of their sharp novelty, and seven years after they released “Mardy Bum” and have since moved on to even greater things.

“Young Lion”, though, is a wonderful song, all folky instrumental rawness and layering of vocals. Not even the eleven Vampire Weekend tracks preceding it could ruin this song for me, although it was disappointingly short.

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