In their latest album, “Modern Vampires of the City,” Vampire Weekend makes it apparent that they have grown since their debut in 2008. There is an aura of confidence and maturity in the album. “Modern Vampires” transcends the college life of Columbia University, where Ezra Koenig, Rostam Batmanglij, Chris Tomson, and Chris Baio met, and focuses on elements of New York City beyond the campus.
The album seems to be a timeline of contemporary life in the city. It opens cautiously with “Obvious Bicycle,” wiping the sleep out of an imaginary character’s eyes. Its smooth beginning establishes the urban setting of the latest chapter in Koenig’s lyrical world, foreshadowing the hustle and love that is to come. These aren’t just empty omens. The character “covers ground” in perhaps the most exciting track of the album, “Unbelievers.” Here, communication with an unknown lover begins, plans are made for the day and eternity, and breezy beats and vocals delineate the entire conversation.
The tale then continues with the two singles “Step” and “Diane Young.” Our character challenges those who have “stepped to his girl” and makes a getaway in the confusion of a torched Saab.
Finding safety, Koenig’s character is reunited with his love interest. The pace of the music slows for them to enjoy each other’s company, and “Hannah Hunt” furthers their history together.
Emotional baggage is accounted for, and “Everlasting Arms” wraps things up, sending them on separate paths. The character’s new destination is the excitement of the city. “Finger Back” and “Worship You” supply the confidence and energy of partying, almost as if he is flirting with another interest.
Before much more can happen, “Ya Hey” shuttles the character away in a taxi just as things get interesting. A buzz is still felt, but there is emotional weight and reflection between the lines. He can see into his love’s heart, but she is still unfathomable.
“Hudson” inflates the viewpoint to a haunting, all-knowing state. Our hero is enlightened and bothered by issues beyond his own, and it is too much. He is powerful but needs to “take his time.”
Koenig said in an NPR interview that “Modern Vampires” is the finale of a trilogy, with “Vampire Weekend” and “Contra” being the first two installments. After listening to this album, fans can tell that the band has graduated to topics beyond those that made them famous. Vampire Weekend is still young and will undoubtedly find more to experiment with.