Vampire Weekend - Father of the Bride
May 2, 2019 (updated May 14, 2019)
95
Vampire Weekend have never been a band to take themselves too seriously, incorporating and often acknowledging weird gimmicks and references so uncool that they sort of became cool. I discovered the band fairly early in my musical discovery with Modern Vampires of the City, and slowly but surely got into them over the course of several months. Throughout the past year I've become especially enamored with the band as some of my friends got into them (and teased me because I look a tiny bit like Ezra Koenig) and I got swept up in the hype for this very album. For a long time Contra was my favorite because of a little song called Giving Up the Gun, but this summer I fell head over heels for the previously mentioned Modern Vampires as it clicked in a way that it never had before. It perfectly fit the headspace I was in as I moved between what felt like two different yet very tangled phases of life. From a period of darkness to a relatively better place. The that said album captured feelings of loss, growth, and uncertainty in a way that was grounded but never too dour was intoxicating. Needless to say the long wait for Father of the Bride made me both extremely excited and nervous as I wondered how Vampire Weekend would follow up one of the best indie pop albums of the decade. How did we do?

Father of the Bride is, in a word: full. Now I realize this is frustratingly vague, but here's my reasoning. Father of the Bride is a big album musically. Where their first two albums were tight and Modern Vampires could be stark and refined, this record is much looser and easy going, welcoming a plethora of sounds new and old into its 18 songs. I was initially worried when the term "jam band" kept popping up, but those influences never drown the band, with no song on the album feeling too bogged down or self indulgent, a trap I find many jam bands often find themselves falling into. No, what Ezra Koenig and co. take from this style is the carefree attitude and warm guitar sounds, and it works out in their favor on everything from Harmony Hall's anthemic stomp to the chilled out balladry of Unbearably White. Other new flavors include country on the trilogy of duets with Danielle Haim, which tell a heartbreaking story in a surprisingly optimistic way, the R&B tinged Flower Moon, or Sympathy's surprising, Spanish-flavored assault. Of course you still have classic sounding Vampire Weekend tracks like the appropriately lively This Life, but their through a more relaxed, experienced lense.

Speaking of that lense, that's what I really want to talk about with Father of the Bride, and why I really think it's "full." I could describe how every song on the album sounds to me, but what's the point of that? You can listen to the album yourself. I want to talk about what I get out of the music: what it means to me. Father of the Bride is exactly the album I wanted to hear this year. It's upbeat and even celebratory, but that joy doesn't feel shallow or even unattainable. In fact, lyrically, Father of the Bride has some of Vampire Weekend's saddest songs to date (My Mistake anyone or Married in a Gold Rush anyone?). Father of the Bride, and perhaps Vampire Weekend as a band's, greatest strength is its ability to make you (or at least me) see a silver lining in a life that can be bleak as hell. Looking back, I think that's why I would keep coming back to this band's music, and I would consider Father of the Bride to be the most blatant example of this yet. Ezra Koenig seems to be someone who hasn't figured life out per se, but who at least seems to have realized the way things tend to work and how to make the best of it. He is the same person who wrote that infamously sober line on Step, but he has come to see that if you look at the world in that same grey all the time, you're gonna ruin the good things in life too. The way I see it, Father of the Bride is about finding joy in life, even when it sucks: like petting a cat int the middle of a long day or jamming out with your friend after getting fired. This joy is contagious, putting a smile on my face and making me feel, wait for it, full.

I couldn't tell you where this album ranks in Vampire Weekend's discography: it's way too early for that anyway. What I can tell you is that front to back, this is an experience designed not to make you forget your worries, but look at the grand scheme of things and say: "eh it could be worse," and then dance in spite of it everything.

Favorite Tracks: Hold You, Harmony Hall, This Life, Big Blue, How Long, Unbearably White, Married in a Gold Rush, My Mistake, Sympathy, Flower Moon, 2021, Stranger, Spring Snow, 'Jerusalem, New York, Berlin'

Least Favorite Track: We Belong Together
8 Comments
May 3, 2019
Lovely. Just lovely...
May 3, 2019
Amazing job :D
May 3, 2019
Honestly, one of the best reviews I’ve read on the site. Keep up the great work!
May 3, 2019
thanks for the kind words
May 3, 2019
Yeah I gave up on wanting to write a review after reading yours
May 3, 2019
Awesome review. I feel very similarly toward the record, glad to see some people really passionate about it!
May 4, 2019
I'm glad you enjoyed the "fullness" of the album. It didn't work for me, but I see where you're coming from
May 16, 2019
Good review man!
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