Vampire Weekend grows up on ‘Father of the Bride’

Matt Campbell

Courtesy of iTunes.

Vampire Weekend aren’t exactly doing anything new on their newest album, “Father of the Bride,” and it might be what works in their favor.

On this triumphant 18-track comeback album, the Ivy League indie rockers have demonstrated their growth, presenting us with a record that juxtaposes the frantic energy of their 2008 self-titled debut. Still, the band continues to play to their strengths, generating a brand of world music inspired rhythms, staccato guitar virtuosity and stunningly sharp lyrics penned by frontman Ezra Koenig. The band’s signature sound continues to ring from college dorms and apathetic teenagers’ bedrooms.

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Despite a five-year hiatus, the group has not lost any of their signature flair. In 2013, their album “Modern Vampires of the City” presented a darker and more romantic aesthetic that would have served as a worthy bookend to their already legendary career.

On “Father of the Bride,” the growth is apparent. The first single off the album, “Harmony Hall,” serves as an appropriate comeback for the band, implementing smooth acoustic guitar leads over thumping conga drums and Koenig’s signature surrealist lyrics.

“2021,” the second single released at the same time as “Harmony Hall,” features Koenig crooning over looped, synthesized drums, reminiscent of the more new wave and experimental elements of 2010’s “Contra” and “Modern Vampires of the City.”

Songs like “Sunflower” incorporate more of Vampire Weekend’s signature, and sometimes frantic, guitar virtuosity — a calling card of Koenig, who also serves as the band’s lead guitarist. This is all over a simple chanted melody. Still, the band does well in not straying from the aspects of their sound on which they have built up such a loyal following, for example earworm melodies and world music-inspired sounds.

This album serves as a greatest hits of sorts for the band, highlighting their proficiency in creating diverse music that spans the realms of indie rock, African and folk music. This is especially apparent on the album’s opening track “Hold You Now.”

It is clear that the members of Vampire Weekend have grown both as people and as musicians in the time they’ve spent away from touring. This is evident everywhere on “Father of the Bride.” The band has grown from their youthful and quirky spirit, but they still retain a sense of wonder and excitement that is displayed proudly throughout the album.

Perhaps what separates “Father of the Bride” from the band’s previous releases is a sense of refined maturity and a lack of a clear and distinguishable aesthetic. Instead, the record serves as an authority figure in the band’s discography, elegantly showcasing the band’s growth while further cementing their status as indie rock legends.

Overall: 7/10

Best tracks: “Harmony Hall,” “Sunflower” and “Hold You Now”

Worst tracks: “Bambina” and “We Belong Together”

Vampire Weekend will be playing Red Rocks Amphitheater Oct. 8-9, 2019. “Father of the Bride” can be found on Spotify and Apple Music.

Matt Campbell can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @mattcampbell90.