mon 06/07/2020

CD: Vampire Weekend - Father of the Bride | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Vampire Weekend - Father of the Bride

CD: Vampire Weekend - Father of the Bride

Art school indie darlings lose a member but find new depths

Father of the Bride is Vampire Weekend's longest, and perhaps most interesting album

Three albums in, and Vampire Weekend were due a shake-up. Enter Father of the Bride, by far their most ambitious record to date. It’s an 18-track behemoth featuring 14 musicians and six different producers, spanning from folk to jazz. It may be a bit kitchen sink, but it’s also their most exciting release since their eponymous debut.

Lead single “Harmony Hall” has already been flooding the airwaves, with a Primal Scream-esque chorus that threatens to follow you to the grave. It’s addictive straight pop that continues on tracks “This Life” and “Bambina”, Ezra Koenig’s vocals finding those signature cute refrains. But this time, Koenig’s not alone – Danielle Haim (from Haim, of course) features on several standout tracks. Their voices melt perfectly on country duets “Married in a Gold Rush” and “We Belong Together”, songs that could be 40 years old were it not for the production.

That production is perhaps the record’s greatest achievement. It begs for your best speakers, constantly surprising with quivering strings and crunched drums. The melancholia of “Unbearably White” is stunning, while driving flamenco “Sympathy” reaches almost comically epic proportions. It brings to mind the production of Dirty Projectors, but backed by more assured songwriting.

This is the first album without multi-instrumentalist Rostam Batmanglij, and this change has pushed the band to experiment. “Sunflower” is from the most playful side of the Beach Boys, all Sixties riffs and scatting, while “How Long?” brings an irresistible R&B groove. FOTB’s variety is refreshing, and tracks that lean too heavily into their usual art-school Afro-pop (such as “Stranger”) sound all the staler for it. It’s a little disparate, but the first listen a consistently interesting experience.

That said, at 18 tracks, there could have been some trimming. “Rich Man” is a nice but throwaway McCartney-style acoustic noodle, and things start getting indulgent somewhere between “Flower Moon” and “2021”. Perhaps some restraint could have been practised, but then FOTB’s highlights come from some of the most unexpected places. The singles may be catchy, but the real gems lie within the album tracks.

@OwenRichards91

It brings to mind the production of Dirty Projectors, but backed by more assured songwriting

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters