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VAMPIRE WEEKEND'S #1 CRITICAL TRIUMPH

In his think piece for Consequence of Sound, Tyler Clark makes a bold statement about Vampire Weekend and its brilliant new album—the band’s first for Columbia—and then backs it up with stats.

“With the ballyhooed release of Father of the Bride, Vampire Weekend makes a serious case for being the only band from indie rock’s ascendant decade that’s remained creatively inspired, commercially viable and culturally interesting enough to still command true mainstream attention,” he posits. “In short, they may be the most important band of the ’00s indie era still operating at the end of the ’10s.”

The band, which has drawn inspiration from past greats, most notably and continuously Paul Simon, has nonetheless managed to stay current, scoring #1 debuts on its last three albums, including this one. Father of the Bride is streaming better than most rock releases, and at 18 tracks—taking a page out of the hip-hop playbook—it’s nearly twice as long as many rock releases, which may help the numbers if fans are streaming the entire album. Whether these inroads are a positive sign for the genre or simply a testament to VW’s ability to transcend genre is an intriguing talking point to bat around. Meanwhile, the album is currently sitting at #2 on the iTunes chart.

This strong start, combined with the wall-to-wall critical acclaim, may well enhance the band’s chances for snagging an Album of the Year Grammy nom. 

Rolling Stone’s David Fricke calls Father of the Bride a “modern California pop masterpiece” in his lead review, explaining, “Singer-guitarist Ezra Koenig, the band’s composer-lyricist and a co-producer on virtually every track, has stuffed his hooks and bridges with so many change-ups in rhythm, guitar tone and dramatic instrumental flourish that, by the finish, you feel like you’ve been whipped through a modern-pop homage to the Beatles’ Abbey Road medley—twice over.”

New York Times critic Jon Pareles is similarly dazzled. “The group’s fourth album puts a musical smile on multiple downfalls: romantic, political, environmental, economic, cultural,” he notes. “Ezra Koenig…sees crumbling promises and failing certainties everywhere, whether or not the music admits it. In ‘Harmony Hall,’ the album’s standout song and lead single, barrelhouse piano chords and gospelly tambourine rise up to accompany Koenig as he sings, ‘Anybody with a worried mind/Could never forgive the sight/Of wicked snakes inside a place/You thought was dignified.’…

“Each song offers its own gauntlet of musical leaps and verbal allusions, though they keep circling back to personal breakups and societal breakdowns. “Who knows the reason that kindness lost its hold?” Koenig muses in ‘Stranger.’ But then he heads into one more gleeful, irresistible, three-chord chorus: ‘Things have never been stranger,’ he sings, ‘Things are gonna stay strange.’”

Variety's Zack Ruskin, meanwhile, hailed the set as "an album that could soundtrack an afternoon picnic or be used as fodder for a doctorate thesis on songwriting. It’s a beautifully realized cipher in an age of unsatisfying answers."

“Like Simon,” writes Uproxx’s Steven Hyden in his rave, “Koenig can’t help but couch his philosophizing and sardonic storytelling in effervescent melodies and boisterous, danceable music. The end result feels like darkness stuffed inside of light, with jokes chasing away tears in the face of anxious, thrilling uncertainty, as your life does.”

Sounds like the kind of record you might want to spend some serious time with.

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