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Album Review by Tom Beninate
Vampire Weekend -
Modern Vampires of the City

Produced by Ariel Rechshaid and Rostam Batmanglij.

Vampire Weekend is one of the more currently successful Indie-rock bands. The band is not as popular as other mainstream bands because there are no number one caliber songs in their repertoire. However, their third album, Modern Vampires of the City debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 charts. The music on this record was written by guitarist/keyboardist and backing vocalist Rostam Batmanglij, and lead vocalist and guitarist Ezra Koenig.

Many of the tunes on this record fall into a predictable chord progression pattern. The old repetitive songwriting style consisting of a simple verse and chorus gets tiring very quickly. With that said, there are a number of unique and interesting concepts and arrangements here. Most of the songs sound different and have creative sound effects.  The vocals are that typical male-oriented “drone” that we’ve been hearing for the last two decades.

Overall, this is a reasonably good record for today’s times. But it is not for everyone. Vampire Weekend fans should add this one to their collection. Give Modern Vampires of the City a listen if you are looking for something a little different.


01 Obvious Bicycle You get the flavor of this album with this tune. There is a bit of dreariness to this album opener. This slow-medium tempo song might have been better suited to exist somewhere else on the record.

02 Unbelievers There is a lot of kick (drum) here on this upbeat and fun tune. The only thing that sounds familiar is the predictable chord progression.

03 Step This is a good tune that pushes the envelope into Lennon territory. “Step” exemplifies Batmanglij’s songwriting style where he starts with a short verse followed by a short chorus and then simply repeats both a number of times until the song ends.

04 Diane Young Here we have a simple up-tempo song filled with excitement. A good hook could have really pumped up the song.

05 Don’t Lie Big drums, predictable chord progressions, and a repetitive chorus describe this fifth track.

06 Hannah Hunt It’s as though Batmanglij either does not want to write great music or does not want to take the time to completely finish his songs. “Hannah Hunt” is essentially a verse that keeps repeating.

07 Everlasting Arms This sleepy marching tune simply has no hook. Check out the interesting string arrangement.

08 Finger Back This is one of the better tracks on the record. Although there is a retro chord progression, this up-tempo song is approached from a different angle.

09 Worship You Sorry, if you only downloaded this track you will not be able to determine what is being sung during the fast-paced verse. This reasonably good song has a crazy yet interesting sax-like solo.

10 Ya Hey Another one of the better songs here – if you can get through the very silly, infant-like singing during the chorus.

11 Hudson The best song on this album. This medieval- sounding tune is slow-moving, unique, and full of sound effects. Put in a good bridge and maybe another hook and the Vampires would get some serious attention.

12 Young Lion If you only downloaded this tune, the lyrics are: “You take your time, young lion”. The song is 1:45 and is an interesting way to end an album. It actually works.


Songwriting Batmanglij and Koenig created twelve good song concepts. They just need to advance their writing to get each song to a higher level. The lyrics, written by Koenig are professional although at times seem a bit too pushy.

Arranging The arrangements are generally supportive and interesting. A lot of time was spent on sound effects. Between the two, the record has a distinctive sound.

Album Presentation Matt de Jong was responsible for packaging layout and booklet design. The booklet has black text on white background and black and red crayon-like marks throughout. Some people call this artsy and others call it being lazy.

Artwork The 20-page brochure contains the lyrics to all songs. Credit is given to Batmanglij and Asher Sarlin for the interesting CD design. It also acknowledges Alex John Beck as the photographer for the centerfold band shot. The album cover photo is the famous 1966 shot of New York City taken by New York Times photographer Neal Boenzi. The two photos and a graphic complete the booklet artwork.

Originality The uniqueness of this album comes through from the core songs. But when those songs travel on the familiar chord progression bus some of that creativeness fades.

Performance The performances here are professional and in the groove. There seems to be a hint of tiredness or of being rushed. Let’s just chalk that up to creating a mood.   
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Date: July 26, 2013
Artist:Vampire Weekend
Album Title: Modern Vampires of the City
Artist's website: www.vampireweekend.com
©2013 XL Recordings Ltd

out of 5

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