Father of the Bride
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It’s been six years since indie rock’s puckish preppies, Vampire Weekend, have released an album. Highly anticipated, their new album Father of the Bride is an overstuffed album, bursting with subtle, nostalgic pop. Its aesthetics feel distinctively ‘90s. While the unironic earnestness of “global”-style of acts like the Indigo Girls or Rusted Root hasn’t been resurrected in such a high profile way yet. Ezra Koenig and crew, though, are able to bend the style to create a prescient sound.
Produced by frequent collaborator Ariel Rechtshaid, returning after working on Modern Vampires of the City (2013), the album is bright and poppy, much lighter than its predecessor. And despite leaving the band in 2016 to work on solo material, former Vampire Weekender Rostam Batmanglij reappears as producer.
“Harmony Hall” is the piano-driven first single. It’s not a far cry from the tracks on Modern Vampires, baroque and bluesy all at once. Another blues-tinged song, but this time on the jam band end of the spectrum, is “Sympathy,” with driving guitars and castanets for a little flair.
LA-based musician Steve Lacy (of The Internet fame) brings his California vibes to the groovy “Sunflower,” a musical equivalent to hacky sacks and Tevas. “Flower Moon,” Lacy’s second contribution on the album feels like classic Vampire Weekend, subtly chaotic and catchy.
Not everything Vampire Weekend tries on Father of the Bride ends up working out. In “Married in a Gold Rush,” the call of “who’s your baby” in Danielle Haim’s strong throaty affectation feels interrupted by Koenig's impish scolding of “if you don’t know by now.” The juxtaposition is jarring. In “We Belong Together,” Haim’s vocals are mixed down enough to achieve a more even, Rilo Kiley-esque duet.
Six years later, the hope is to be blown away. But from the curious title to the retro-camp of the album cover, Father of the Bride might leave Vampire Weekend fans scratching their heads. There are charming pop songs aplenty, but less highly-orchestrated alchemy; the kind of magic that’s become the expectation over their 13-year career.
Notable Tracks: "Flower Moon" | “Harmony Hall” | "How Long"