“Father of the Bride” has Vampire Weekend striving further than before

The famed indie rock band leans into a more folk-inspired sound on their new album, following six year hiatus.

Ben Hobbs, Writer

Vampire Weekend has remained a household name in the indie/alt-rock community for years. Their debut, self-titled album rocked the world with hits like “A-Punk” and “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa.” The success of their first three albums launched the band into the stratosphere of alternative fame, garnering millions of fans and even the Grammy award for best alternative music album with “Modern Vampires of the City.”

The band, founded in New York City, consistently put out music from 2008 to 2013, but after their third album, “Modern Vampires of the City,” Vampire Weekend endured a six year hiatus. Not much was heard from the band until keyboardist, guitarist and backing vocalist Rostam Batmanglij announced that he would be leaving the band to pursue solo projects in 2016.

The hiatus came to an end when, on January 24, 2019, Vampire Weekend released two singles, “Harmony Hall” and “2021,” with the announcement of an album in the near future, “Father of the Bride.” The singles excited fans, curious to see what was in the future for the band. Both “Harmony Hall” and “2021” retained the core VW sound, but had elements of new adventures from frontman Ezra Koenig and company, with “Harmony Hall” reception calling it “Grateful Dead-esque.”

“Father of the Bride” boasts a 58 minute runtime nearly doubling the 10 song tracklisting of their second album “Contra” with 18 songs. While 18 songs seems ambitious, several songs on the record are too short to live up to their full potential, like “Bambina”, “2021,” and “Sunflower.” While short, these songs still pack as big of a punch as the longer, “Harmony Hall,” and “This Life.”

The album sounds like a Vampire Weekend album, but different at the same time, with ambitious sound production and a more “Americanized” sound. Reddit user Johnfromconeyisland said “This record is like meeting up with an old friend that’s changed a lot since you last saw them but you’re happy for how happy they are now.”

The instrumentation on “Father of the Bride” is warm and welcoming, contrasting the dark lyrics littered with internal conflict from Koenig. The Morrison-esque “This Life” puts out a cheery melody with the melancholy lyrics of “Oh Christ, am I good for nothing,” ringing out in the chorus. These themes of self conflict and uncertainty are touched again on several tracks such as “Big Blue” and “Unbearably White,” even “How Long?,” under the guise of the classic summertime happiness that has remained a staple of Vampire Weekend’s core sound.

“Father of the Bride” also sees the addition of several collaborators, most notably the inclusion of Danielle Haim, the guitarist for the sibling trio band, HAIM. Her contributions in the duets on the album work as a contrast and opposite side to Koenig’s lyrics and vocals, portraying their relationship, like in “Hold You Now.” The LP also features guitar and vocal work from the notable Steve Lacy on both “Flower Moon” and “Sunflower” as well as production and instrumentation from former band member Batmanglij.

While reminiscent of Vampire Weekend’s past works, “Father of the Bride” shows eagerness from the band to explore new sounds and techniques even further than they already have. Koenig has proved to be lyrically consistent while pushing the envelope of new sounds, which has been able to keep their millions of fans engaged since their debut in 2008, and it is exciting to see where he will take Vampire Weekend in the future.