After spending months counting down the days until it’s release date the album has left me wondering what they have been doing for the past three years. When Vampire Weekend released their debut, self titled album back in 2008, they were innovating; adapting the indie genre to fit their own unique infiltration of African sounds into American pop. It was fresh, intelligent, and no-one could escape the tidal wave off lead single ‘A-Punk’. However, long gone are the ‘A-Punk’ days, here in 2013 Ezra Koenig & co bring forward a bland third effort. Opening the album is the track ‘Obvious Bicycle’. Pleasing as it is to hear the familiar tones of Ezra’s vocals I can’t help feeling this song doesn’t actual go anywhere. As Pitchfork stated in their, rather generous, review of the album, there is ‘more air in these songs’.
For them, this is a positive, for me, however, it is a negative. ‘Unbelievers’ has more promise with a regular beat running through the track and key changes that hint towards something very promising. However, the build-up in this track begs for an anthemic chorus yet the track doesn’t deliver. It travels at pace to a mild level of excitement but calms before it reaches anything thrilling. Luckily at this point in the record we reach something familiar. ‘Step’ was put up on Vampire Weekend’s website before the album release. With the chorus and parts of the melody sampling Souls of Mischeif’s track ‘Step to my Girl’ they are using the past to inspire the present, and it really works! This track does have ‘more air’ than the relentless first album, but here it is warranted. I value the minimalistic approach to this track; the tinkling piano accompaniment to the haunting, echoing vocals of Ezra Koenig complimenting the (often unintelligible) lyrics. The focus is on his unique voice, which for me is the defining feature of Vampire Weekend.The next track on the record is first single ‘Diane Young’ which is a fantastic indie-pop record. It has all the energy that we come to expect from Vampire Weekend but unfortunately this is where the positives end for me. The rest of the album stumbles through tracks with no stand-out features. Upon my first listen I definitely couldn’t have differentiated between the tracks on the latter half. ‘Hannah Hunt’ is perhaps the slowest point in the album, it takes minimal to the extreme sounding more like an interlude than a track. Another low point comes in the form of next single ‘Ya Hey’ which in all honesty just annoys me. Overall Vampire Weekend have failed to meet my very high expectations. I feel disappointed with them for this poor third effort. The only shimmer of hope I can hold on to is that these songs will come to life in the live settings at the likes of Glastonbury festival.