By Dani Walpole
Caution: The review you are about to read was written by a die-hard Vampire Weekend fan, and though the author attempts to provide a nuanced perspective, she largely fails.
On the eve of the release of “Father of the Bride,” I found myself in Kingston, New York. Though I had driven up to Kingston to see one of Vampire Weekend’s New York State release shows, I began the afternoon in my friend Rebecca’s backyard, gardening alongside her and two strangers I had just met.
As we pulled up weeds and planted seeds, I thought about how gardening was exactly what I needed; I had been brimming with anticipation all day, and the already-released singles from Father of the Bride had made me feel what I was feeling in that moment; companionship with other people, and unity with nature. On Father of the Bride, Vampire Weekend pays tribute to our Earth, thanking it for its shelter on “Big Blue.” Lead singer Ezra Koenig sings “When I was hurt and in need of affection/When I was tired and I couldn’t go home/Then you offered protection.” In other songs such as Sunflower and Unbearably White, this theme of reverence for the natural world is continued.
Father of the Bride (FOTB) places a huge emphasis on the Earth as the primary element of its lyricism and branding–the band features insects in their videos, the tree of life in their promos, and a simple illustration of the Earth as their album cover.
In my hectic, over-scheduled and narcissistic life, the direction of this album was exactly what I wanted from Vampire Weekend: I was hoping that they would provide me with the sense of naturalistic, we-are-the-world comfort that they had previously demonstrated in songs like “Hannah Hunt.” With the majority of their new singles, they fulfilled this wish of mine.
After spending that Thursday afternoon gardening, Vampire Weekend’s show was completely electrifying, and I could not stop dancing the entire night. While playing old hits with a new seven-piece band (including an incredible lead guitarist,) the group did not miss a beat, and though the venue was seated, every person in the house was on their feet. Ezra Koenig, VW’s frontman, began to take requests from the crowd, agreeing to each audience suggestion, though at one point he noted “I think we can do that one…I might f*ck up the lyrics, though.”
With the defection of their superstar producer Rostam Batmanglij from the band, it was good to see that VW could still honor and perform songs from their earlier years while still welcoming a new era. Batmanglij is responsible for hits from artists such as Maggie Rogers, Wet, and Carly Rae Jepsen (a WFNP favorite,) as well as his flourishing solo career–he is likely as sought out in the music industry as Jack Antonoff. With this repertoire, the loss of Batmanglij was a substantial blow to the band, and though they remain on great terms, I was unsure what would come of a new Vampire Weekend album without him.
Though Batmanglij produced one song on FOTB, it certainly stands up without the Rostam flair typical of previous albums; his absence is filled by new instrumental techniques, some heavy sampling, and special guests such as Steve Lacy and (prominently) Danielle Haim.
Father of the Bride is a sweet album full of gems, and though its songs are not as hype as classic Vampy Weeks crowd-pleasers such as A Punk or Diane Young, it is still a very well-written and performed album, with songs that will endure through this year and beyond. FOTB is a clear change of pace, and what likely caused this is the age and maturity of the bands’ members; no longer Columbia University students, they have partners and kids to tend to–Vampire Weekend songs in 2019 seem as if they were written from a comfortable armchair, rather than on the sticky floor of an off-campus apartment.
On “Father of the Bride,” Vampire Weekend maintains its poised, polished sound, but adds something new and more earthy to their atmosphere. FOTB conveys a sense of maturity and peace while also containing some great melodies and songwriting. My review? It’s good! Go listen today.
Dani Walpole is a senior at New Paltz, and the Public Affairs and Promotions Director for WFNP. She is the Social Media Manager for The Teller Magazine and a contributor for The New Paltz Oracle.