I see a mansard roof through the trees, I see a salty message written in the eves
This week, I have chosen none other than Vampire Weekend .I first heard about Vampire Weekend when they performed on Saturday Night Live back in 2008 where they played two songs: their hit single “A-punk” and the melodic, orchestral “M79.” Back then, I thought they were new and different, albeit a little quirky based on their name. However, that only made me like them more. I bought their album the next day. The Columbia grads (Ezra Koenig, Rostam Batmanglij, Chris Tomson, and Chris Baio) have come quite a long way since their self-titled first album came out back in 2008.
Frontman Ezra Koenig’s unique voice and the group’s complex and upbeat melodies mixed with witty word choice set this album apart from all the rest that came out that year. The group had a shared love of punk rock and African music, which served as a sort of undertone to their music. “Mansard Roof” is brilliant, as well as “Oxford Comma” and “A-Punk,” and they are all so stark and fun. “M79” was rife with orchestral beauty, while “Campus” and “Bryn” house such awesome lyrics. This album, this group, in fact, was different and the fact that they inspired all the controversy and criticism they got time and time again only proves that they truly had something remarkable. They would soon join other indie-pop groups and quickly make a name for themselves. I always loved them. I gushed about them to one of my classmates, who adored them as well, and now we’re best friends. I guess that only goes to show what a powerful effect this album had on me and my life.
Just when the mass audiences were getting restless with waiting for what the group was planning on doing next, Vampire Weekend released their second album, Contra, in 2010. “Horchata” was usually my go-to song during this time, because I was entranced by the collegiate vocabulary and the feeling of nostalgia that it gave me. “White Sky” was light, airy, and bouncy, giving the feeling of carefree happiness. “Holiday,” “California English,” and “Run” all follow the same sort of guidelines – they’re fun, peppy, and dramatic, which is exactly Vampire Weekend’s entire persona. “Cousins,” of course, was the stand alone single from this album, and rightly so. The quirky lyrics and rapid guitar riffs are classic. To close the album, the band took the softer approach and showcased the relaxing trio of “Giving Up The Gun,” “Diplomat’s Son”, and “I Think Ur A Contra” which was a brilliant little cool down from the runner’s high the beginning gave. This album contained the familiar preppy guitar riffs, the quirky lyrics, and the spontaneity of the first album, but Contra just…felt different. To me, they wanted to prove all the people who didn’t like the first album wrong. And if they couldn’t do that, well, then they just didn’t care. The music was peppier. The lyrics weirder. The group more eccentric than ever before. The album was received a little better by critics, who remarked on it’s bright, joyous sound. And it was true, this album did seem a little lighter and easier on the ears than Vampire Weekend was. It was as if they worked out all the little impurities and imperfections of the last album and presented their perfect little masterpiece in a more confident manner, which is what made Contra a gem in my eyes.
Next came Vampire Weekend’s much anticipated third album, Modern Vampires of the City, in 2013. I was counting down the days until this album came out. The cover looked so mysterious and different from the colorful backgrounds the other two had. When I finally got my hands on the vinyl, I fell in love. Modern Vampires of the City was clearly more mature, with a distinct sophistication that can only be described as luxurious and decadent. The sounds were cleaner, more relaxed. “Unbelievers” has that classic Vampire Weekend feeling, with fast guitar riffs and speedy drumming, and is the perfect little single from this album. “Step” has this almost renaissance feel to it, and it just sounds so majestic in that unusual, yet addicting way. “Diane Young” provides the punch, and boy does it not disappoint. It’s energetic, vibrant, and the lyrics are absolutely amazing. “Hannah Hunt” is the most romantic song that you’re ever going to get from Vampire Weekend, and it’s absolutely beautiful, especially when it explodes towards the end. “Everlasting Arms” is slower and more relaxed, while “Finger Back” and “Worship You” brings Ezra’s killer vocal chops to center stage. “Ya Hey” is one of my favorites from the album, simply because it’s smooth, delicate, and yet oh so unpredictable. If this particular album seems a bit darker than their earlier ones, well, it’s because it simply is. However, dark does not always mean gloomy and undesirable. Here, dark simply means an absence of light, or an absence of what they used to be. There were no more preppy undertones or traditional guitar riffs, and if there were, there was very little. Instead, this somewhat “coming-of-age” album showcases what the group has learned over the past seven years, and it can only truly be described as a work of art. It’s no wonder the group won a Grammy just a week ago for Best Alternative Album. They deserve it. They will continue to be an inspiration to me and whenever I feel down, and I am starstruck every single time I listen to them.