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Vampire Weekend Return With Comfort-Indie

Artist: Vampire Weekend

Album: Only God Was Above Us

Release date: 5th April 2024

Vampire Weekend are BACK! Wow it's been so long since they released Modern Vampires of the City, their much acclaimed third album. Wait this is their FIFTH album??! What happened to the fourth.. Oh yes, that's right! They've already been back, but that time they were less back than they are back now.

Love them, hate them, tolerate them. Vampire Weekend were a defining band in the late '00s indie rock boom. They were doing unashamedly preppy and twee, but catchy and tongue in cheek renditions of indie rock and pop. With Modern Vampires of the City they capped off a satisfying trilogy of records, with that one in particular feeling like a definitive moment with massive songs like Diane Young or Hannah Hunt. For as easy it is to discredit Vampire Weekend, they did sound quite unlike much else and did this sound in a convincing way.

Since 2013 the band lost one of their members, Rostam, who went on to release some solo albums and produce for Clairo and HAIM among others. They did return with Father of the Bride, which was long and varied. Had some solid hits wide appeal hits, I heard one of the songs from this album playing in Tesco recently! I even caught them on tour supporting this record and as a collective they seemed engaged and were trying out some jam band extended session versions of certain tracks.

However, this record was not really a 'Vampire Weekend' record, given it was primarily the brainchild of frontman Ezra Koenig and producer Ariel Rechtshaid. It don't think it sounds particularly off, but in the return to a greater influence from Chris Baio and Chris Tomson, it's like the band never left!

Listening to Only God Was Above Us sounds like I've been transported back into an alternate history mid-'10s era where the next Vampire Weekend album came out on a fairly expected timescale and sounds exactly like you'd expect the follow-up to Modern Vampire of the City to sound like. To me, this album is fairly unsurprising, but in that is there not still not a lot of value to a album which sounds this distinct coming out in 2024.

There's a certain timelessness to it for sure, it sounds wonderful with rich production, distinct drumming performances in particular as well as typically wordy yet catchy lyrical performances from Ezra Koenig. It's picking right up where their third album left off, which in 2024 feels right on the verge of a nostalgia trip and a just in the nick of time return to form for a band. It's something that I think if it had come out in 2016 maybe, it'd be a big deal, but now despite such a strong aesthetic attached with the album's music videos and album art, it's not quite something I'd label as an essential new album.

But lyrically and even sonically, Ezra Koenig, Chris Baio and Chris Tomson all do recognise the fact they've established a legacy that's in the process of being judged if it will stand the test of time. It's an album that sounds exactly like you'd expect it to, which is not a bad thing at all, but maybe in lacking surprises it does transition Vampire Weekend into feeling their age at 17 years running as a band.

It's very well penned, sounds delightful and has some nice exciting moments. There's not a bad song on it and it does feel quite honest. Sometimes something will come out and be exactly what you expect, but hardly in a bad way. Only God Was Above Us is what you'd want from a new Vampire Weekend album, nothing more nothing less, and that is somewhat comforting. However, its lyrics showing a certain kind of uncertainty still feed back into such a turbulent era we are living in, but in a way that is timeless. As such, it is an achievement to make something so good that lives up to a legacy. It reminds me of 2020's belated The Strokes album which didn't do all too much new, but enough that you'd not treat them as a washed up legacy act living off hits.


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