Father of the Bride, the fourth album by Vampire Weekend, starts with a smooth and gentle acoustic number, “Hold You Now,” which features Danielle Haim, samples a line from a Hans Zimmer soundtrack, and feels like a folk standard. But it’s not, it’s an original, and it sets the tone for the entire album.
Vampire Weekend burst on the indie scene with an eponymous 2006 album that featured a single named after an esoteric grammar rule. The album felt instantly familiar: It bore all the tropes and hooks of the day, that day being the beginning of the boom of indie rock as a sound–not just as a political statement.
“Hold You Know” is followed by the joyous and also folky “Harmony Hall.” It’s a party song, it’s a beautiful song, and it’s one you’d expect to experience as twee, but there’s actually quite a bit of heft to it. “I don’t wanna live like this, but I don’t wanna die,” is the last line of the song. Oh. So wait. That was…Heavy? Wow.
As they did on their debut, VW display a mastery of the components of what has now become the (almost tired) genre called Indie Rock, but every song explodes with a life and creativity–crisp with energy–so that none of it feels as standard as any of its parts.
At times, the album even seems to move to show tunes–“My Mistake,” driven by piano and vocals, is such a song. It sounds like it belongs on Broadway. There are several places where the album stretches into dream-pop, back into chamber pop, hits on Americana, and crosses into standard rock and roll. This is an album that won’t be fully nailed down.
And maybe, again, that’s because of its parts rather than its sum: The lead singer of Haim is mentioned above, but she’s not the only guest on this record. Kendrick Lamar collaborator Steve Lacy contributes his characteristic smooth licks and gives “Flower Moon” an African feel.
The Vampires’ most recent releases have felt tired and thick, but this album sheds all that. Oh, and let’s make sure we say this: Yes, it’s a double album. And now, it’s not overstuffed. In fact, it flies by faster than any other record I’ve heard this year.