Review #328: Modern Vampires of the City, Vampire Weekend

Karla Clifton
3 min readNov 7, 2022

#328: Modern Vampires of the City, Vampire Weekend

It’s always exciting to see Rolling Stone acknowledge albums released post-2000. That’s why I started at the top, honestly — I knew that the bottom had more artists I loved. Arctic Monkeys, Green Day, freaking My Chem??? They could have ripped that from my elementary-school-era iPod Shuffle.

And I didn’t even realize how devoted a Vampire Weekend fan I was until I looked at their Spotify page and recognized every single song. Then I went through and rewatched all their old music videos, and you should too, because they are so much fun it’s a crime.

Vampire Weekend was one of those groups that got flack for being too clever. Were they satirical, or were they pretentious? It’s certainly hard not to read the “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” music video as anything other than snotty. But listen, they formed at Columbia University. They come by it honestly.

At this point, Vampire Weekend had abandoned rich people snark for atheistic philosophy. Ezra Koenig is writing about how dead God is, which is a pretty bold move for a cheerful pop album. “Unbelievers” actually freaked me out when I heard it on the radio the first time. He sounds so optimistic about going to hell! And I believe that he’s in earnest, since “Ya Hey” verges on some pretty serious blasphemy. Ezra, you’ve been reading Nietzche, you little rascal, haven’t you? (See also “Diane Young” and “Everlasting Arms” if you want cheerful puns about impending mortality.)

They don’t completely abandon their clever vignettes for metaphysical speculation, though they do shy away from painting pictures of snotty rich people. No, they tell tales of people who are long-disillusioned with life — see “Obvious Bicycle” (It’s been 20 years and no one’s told the truth so far) and “Don’t Lie” (Can’t choose, every lyric gives me anxiety). They describe a break-up road trip on “Hannah Hunt,” and the namesake of the Hudson River on “Hudson.”

Koenig’s lyrics are brilliant, and his voice is pretty good, and he is also a certified cutie pie, but former member Rostam Batmanglij is largely responsible for Vampire Weekend’s world-inspired indie vibe. Batmanglij, who now performs solo as Rostam, plays more than five instrumental parts on “Step” alone, while Koenig sings lead. “Worship You” is another Batmanglij highlight; it’s based on a Persion raga, according to this delightful interview with Batmanglij’s mom, and Koenig struggles to keep up the pace. And the brief outro “Young Lion” proves that he can sing, if only quietly. (And he is also a certified cutie pie.)

It was definitely a throwback to dive back into Vampire Weekend, who changed the musical landscape in more ways than one, and also was the first indie band I gave half a chance. The best part? My boyfriend liked this one, too! He even sang along!

Most Annoying Song: “Finger Back.”

Reminder: Ezra Koenig has a producing credit on Lemonade because of a Tweet he did, which is also the only good thing that has happened on Twitter ever.

Review #327: Live At Leeds, The Who

Review #329: Endtroducing….., DJ Shadow