'Father of the Bride' brings a bouncy, airy sound to Vampire Weekend

by Mike Sorensen
Posted: May. 1, 2019 10:50 am Updated: May. 1, 2019 10:58 am

Following a break of nearly six years, and the departure of long-time member and producer Rostam Batmanglij, Vampire Weekend returns with the full-length album “Father of the Bride,” to be released on Sony's Columbia Records label.

Core members Ezra Koenig, Chris Tomson, and Chris Baio are joined by numerous guests and friends for this album, including Batmanglij coming back to lend his expertise to the process and sound.

Leading up to the album's release, a full third of the 18 tracks were released in three waves as double-A-side singles. In January, “Harmony Hall” and “2021” made their way out into the world, while “Sunflower” and “Big Blue” were released in early March. The last promotional releases, a month before the album's street-date, brought “This Life” and “Unbearably White” to the hands, ears and minds of audiences.

While these six tracks have whetted the appetite, the dozen remaining from the abbreviated “FotB” are a full meal to satisfy the hungriest of fans wanting more. Album opener “Hold You Now,” which features a guest turn from Danielle Haim, has so many different things going on alone it deserves its own review. Opening with a sounds that makes you think you may have gotten a demo version slipped in, the track trips into an electronic-choral portion that will leave you breathless. The acoustic guitar is hypnotic and just carries you away on light, spring breezes in your mind, while samples of Hans Zimmer's work from “The Thin Red Line” add a counter-point to the rest of the song. The track closes back where it started, back with just one voice, one guitar, and feeling like you've gotten a peek inside the back room where you shouldn't be, but where you've always wanted to hang out.

This sets the tone for the whole album. There are heavy lyrics, like the chorus of “Harmony Hall” imploring that “I don't wanna live like this, but I don't wanna die.” It's not as lighthearted as the music makes it seem, and it's beautifully jarring when you're in that floating space and the lyrics find their way into your consciousness.

Danielle Haim – of the band HAIM, for those who don't know – slides back in for appearances on “Married in a Gold Rush” and “We Belong Together.” Steve Lacy, known for his work with The Internet, also shows up on a pair of tracks (“Flower Moon” and “Sunflower”). Other artists show up through samples and blended work mixed in with Koenig's writing.

The whole album has an incredibly light feel. Not in content, exactly, but in tone. The songs float and flow from one into another, like “Big Blue” drifting into “How Long.” The whole album just seems designed for laying out on a blanket, feeling the grass beneath you and watching the clouds move by above you. This is about as metaphysical as I get when it comes to things like this, but that's just the feelings evoked from listening to this album.

“Father of the Bride” is available wherever you get your music, physical or otherwise, on May 3rd. After a stop at the Hangout Music Fest in AL, their tour kicks off in earnest at the beginning of June. You'll want to make sure you know this new album, as it feels likely to feature heavily in this new tour.