Review: A Closer Look at Vampire Weekend’s ‘Father of the Bride’

By Nate Mundt:

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A shot from the “Harmony Hall” music video.

Ever since Vampire Weekend’s tour for their 2013 album Modern Vampires of the City ended in 2016, fans began speculating what the band’s next move would be. Three years later, fans got their wish. On Jan. 24 and March 6, Vampire Weekend released two new tracks each day that will appear on their upcoming 2019 album Father of the Bride. Two more singles will be released in April before the rest of the album is released on May 3.

In an Instagram post in March 2017, Ezra Koenig, the lead singer of Vampire Weekend, revealed that Father of the Bride would feature a more ‘spring-time’ vibe. After listening to the four new singles, the beautiful arrangement of harmony, melody and lyrics found in these songs made me think about noticing the first signs of spring after a harsh, dreary winter.  “Harmony Hall” and “Sunflower” serve more as proper singles, while “2021” and “Big Blue” feel more like transition tracks, due to their rather short length, which will fit the upcoming double album.

“Harmony Hall,” the first single released for Father of the Bride, is a great preview for what the rest of the album could be like. From an instrumental standpoint, Koenig’s guitar work stands out. The guitars open and close the sound, while also contributing to an upbeat, energetic sound that makes you want to go outside and enjoy the beautiful intricacies of the natural world. The lyrics, such as “Thought I was free from all that questioning, but every time a problem ends, another one begins,” paints a somber mood that questions close relationships people have with one another. The background piano notes contribute to an overall joyous sound that makes you happy to be alive. Overall, “Harmony Hall” features unique experimentation with new sounds to create a catchy melody that is perfect for humming.

Rating: 9/10

“Sunflower” opens with progressive bass grooves that are simultaneously interrupted by quick guitar strums. The tempo and melody are reminiscent of 70s funk music, which Koenig is a fan of. Lyrics like “standing in the garden, taking up that space, no power can compel me back into daylight” convey a more positive meaning, compared to “Harmony Hall.” The joyful lyrics and funky melodies create a jovial feeling that reminds me of seeds germinating after the first spring rains fall.

Rating: 8/10

“2021” contains steady periods of soulful lyrics about time quickly passing by, followed by strong guitar chords. The track is based on a sample from Japanese musician Haruomi Hosono’s instrumental piece “Talking.” The powerful lyrical message, intertwined with Hosono’s composition and Koenig’s guitar, creates a memorable transition that prepares listeners for deep cuts that will be on the rest of Father of the Bride.

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The cover art for Father of the Bride.

Rating: 7/10

“Big Blue” starts out with Koenig’s quiet, yet powerful lyrics that build upon a steady instrumental amplitude throughout the track. The juxtaposition of Koenig’s constant vocal volume against the varying loudness of the instruments creates an atmosphere of conflict throughout the track. Lyrics like “When I was hurt and in need of affection, When I was tired, and I couldn’t go home, Then you offered protection” convey the helpful tendencies of most people.

Rating: 7/10

Vampire Weekend’s newest singles provide a strong preview for what the rest of the album will have to offer. The contrasting nature of “Harmony Hall” establishes itself as a standout track on the album. “Sunflower” serves as a positive tune to get fans excited for the newest album, while “2021” and “Big Blue” smoothly transition listeners from one powerful concept to another. These singles give diehard Vampire Weekend fans an amazing sneak-peak of what is to come this May.

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