2019, Music

Father of the Bride (2019) by Vampire Weekend

There was a time, say 15 years ago, when everyone was suddenly really into Vampire Weekend. And then, not longer after, it seemed to become extremely uncool as everyone discussed how transparent their influences supposedly were. What I’m trying to say is that there was a time where it felt like there was a lot of Discourse about Vampire Weekend, most of which I was utterly oblivious too. The little bits I heard were not enough to interest me and so I did not listen to them.

Now, here I am, listening to their fourth album five years after it came out. It seems this is fans’ least favourite, too, so obviously a great place for me to start. Funnily enough, I have listened to an album featuring their departed member Rostam, for whatever that’s worth.

So there are a lot of ideas here. Though the odd song is very simple, most of these songs are just swimming – drowning? – in musical ideas. One of the few things I thought I knew about this band was that there was a lot of percussion but I don’t think I fully realized how much would be going on in a lot of songs and how much they would seem to shift genres, at least within the aesthetic.

The songs are catchy. I think there’s no denying that. And sometimes they go in weird directions, though I do think it’s more the way they are played rather than written which is responsible for most of that.

As I first heard 15 years ago, there is a rather massive Paul Simon influence. Fortunately Koenig doesn’t sound like Simon. Unfortunately, I do not like Paul Simon and I do feel his influence in (some of) the arrangements. To Vampire Weekend’s credit, I’m not sure how many other contemporary bands are this influenced by Paul Simon. Moreover, of those bands, I don’t know if any other band would be this musically diverse. Certainly they are more diverse than Simon himself, at least to the extent that I am familiar with his solo career.

This is creative and the songs are catchy. But I do not like it. I do not like it not so much because of the Paul Simon influence, though that may contribute, but more the overall vibe and aesthetic. Despite clear musical talent this is, um, an extremely wussy band. When I was younger, I used to get so annoyed at musicians who I heard had huge musical talent but who wanted to make run-of-the-mill pop music or basically anything like “the smooth sounds of the ’70s.” I’ve softened on that opinion over the years, but I still generally don’t like bands that have zero muscle behind their music. This is a band that rarely threatens to break out of their relaxed, not-raucous-enough-to-party-but-having-a-good-time aesthetically (musically if not lyrically) and when they threaten it they only briefly threaten it. There is very little danger of this music offending your parents.

Despite their creativity I just get can’t get past how mellow this is. It’s too mellow for me. It’s just…not how I want to spend my time. This band, with an edge, might be pretty good. Maybe they’d even be great. But they have zero edge. And I just can’t care. I think this is mom rock.

6/10 due to the constant creativity of the arrangements

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.