Anticipating the Next Phase of Vampire Weekend
By Owen Murray
Vampire Weekend has one of indie rock's strongest track records.
The band burst onto the scene in 2008 with their self-titled debut. Vampire Weekend displayed eclectic musical influences—often mixing punk with Afrobeat—stellar musicianship, and tight, quirky songwriting. Frontman Ezra Koenig sang with a boyish vocal quality that was instantly recognizable and fit the band's quirky style perfectly.
Despite the quality of their first album, many criticized Vampire Weekend for their Ivy League background. They could come off as pretentious—especially when they leaned into their academic background on tracks like “Oxford Comma.”
On their next two albums, Vampire Weekend established themselves as indie rock mainstays. Contra (2010) mixed the sound of their debut with pop elements on songs like “Giving Up the Gun” and Koenig showed he wasn’t afraid expanding the band’s sonic palette with autotune on “California English.” Modern Vampires of the City (2013) is arguably their best album to date and firmly established Vampire Weekend as one of the best indie rock bands of the 21st century so far.
But what happened?
Vampire Weekend disappeared after this iconic trilogy. Multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Rostam Batmanglij left the band to pursue a solo career shortly after the Modern Vampires of the City tour ended in 2016. The future of Vampire Weekend was up in their air.
Koenig soon silenced doubts via an Instagram post in which he announced that the next Vampire Weekend is tentatively titled Mitsubishi Macchiato. The post raised more questions than it answered, but at least it showed that Vampire Weekend hadn’t disappeared completely.
In February, Vampire Weekend finally announced the album's official title: Father of the Bride.
They also released two new songs: “Harmony Hall” and “2021.” The former showed Vampire Weekend continuing to progress sonically while simultaneously calling back to their previous work. The song opens with a beautiful, clean acoustic guitar riff and builds to a soulful climax, all while interpolating the lyric “I don’t want to live like this, but I don’t want to die” which was first heard on “Finger Back” from Modern Vampires of the City.
“Harmony Hall” relieved any worry that Vampire Weekend lacked inspiration during their six-year absence.
Perhaps it is for the band’s benefit that they waited so long to release a follow up to Modern Vampires of the City.
This way, their first three albums can be solidified as the fantastic trilogy that started the band’s career. Father of the Bride’s album art furthers this idea. For the first time, Vampire Weekend had abandoned their tradition of thick white borders and block text on their covers. Father of the Bride will be presented with a cartoonish globe on an all-white background.
The time separating Father of the Bride from its predecessors and its starkly different presentation show that Vampire Weekend is consciously beginning the second phase of their career. Though the album is still a little ways away, (Father of the Bride is scheduled to be released on May 3) the steady stream of singles all show promise. Vampire Weekend showed their ability to progress from album to album during their first trilogy. Seeing how they will progress from phase to phase is worth getting excited about.