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Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires of the City-CD-of-the-Month

XPN CD of the Month - June, 2013

The anticipation for Modern Vampires of the City (XL Recordings), the third album from Vampire Weekend, has been building for quite a while now. The band has given us a little taste of what to expect through some calculated live performances and online videos, but this week the full scope of what's been brewing for the past few years finally comes to realization. A band always tied to high expectations and hype, Vampire Weekend consider Modern Vampires of the City to be the final piece of a trilogy that began with their 2008 self-titled debut and their Billboard topping follow-up Contra in 2010. This new album doesn't just follow in the footsteps of their first two albums, it challenges both its predecessors to be musically more creative and lyrically more stimulating.

The New York four-piece use their hometown as lyrical and scenic backdrop to the album. There are clever references in song like the double entendre single "Diane Young," which plays off the name of an anti-aging beauty salon in New York and the idea of 'dying young'. And then the more straightforward mention of landmarks on songs like "Finger Back" (W. 103rd and Broadway) and "Hudson." But this isn't the first time Vampire Weekend have used New York as a muse and to be fair Modern Vampires of the City goes much deeper in its ambition and inspiration. In fact, this is easily the most lyrically dense collection of songs penned by frontman Ezra Koenig. Modern Vampires of the City at its core really tackles daunting questions about life, faith and religion. Whether it's questioning life after death on the disguised, upbeat "Unbelievers" or again engaging the idea mortality on the dashing "Worship You," it's an understatement to say that Koenig has matured as a songwriter; these are songs of substance.

Where Ezra challenges fans with a deeper lyrical perspective, he's matched on the music side of things, per usual, by keyboardist/producer Rostam Batmanglij. For the first time, the band brought in an outside producer in Ariel Rechtshaid. And between Rostam and Ariel, who co-produced all the songs on Modern Vampires of the City together, they give us everything we've loved about their first two albums and beyond. Their worldly-infused, indie pop concoction of sounds has become their signature. So has their ability to offer us dreamy, spacious soundscapes like "Ya Hey" matched right up against manic moments like the aforementioned "Finger Back" and Worship You." The final piece of the Vampire Weekend trilogy once again finds a winning combination, and is perhaps the best of the bunch.

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~ Review by Mike Vasilikos

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