Album Notes - Vampire Weekend - Father of the Bride

Dispatches from the Highlands

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It's been six long years...

There is an ongoing debate in the record industry about how to set up the release of a new album. The strategy that is winning the battle in this "what have you done for me lately" world in which artists need to maintain a foothold in the public's consciousness without ever exiting the stage, results in listeners frequently having heard a third or more of the album via the singles by the time it hits shelves (or rather, streaming services). Some songs are available two years ahead of their future (and very much then-unfinished) final landing place. We've certainly come a long way, and yet almost full circle, from the 60s, when singles were thought of as entirely separate entities from LPs, instead bridges between them. "Hey Jude," "She Loves You," "I Want to Hold Your Hand," three songs that each and every one of us could sing word for word, three of the Beatles' most beloved (and best-selling) songs, were never on an LP. 

Today the approach taken is to split the difference: roll out the singles periodically before they inevitably appear bundled together on the final product. For someone who loves albums, it can lead to a feeling of slight disappointment when half of the puzzle is already completed upon opening the box. And so when it was announced that on May 3, 2019, Vampire Weekend would be dropping their fourth album, first in six years, I decided right then and there not to listen to even a second of any of the six singles they promised to put out before Father of the Bride's release. Which made this morning all the more glorious. 

Since 2013's Modern Vampires of the City, Vampire Weekend has pulled off the trick of disappearing from the public eye while remaining on the public's mind. A case of supply and demand, in essence, absence made our hearts grow fonder. And sometimes patience pays off: Ezra Koenig and Co. have done it again. Despite the departure of the band's secret sauce and founding member Rostam Batmanglij in 2016, Father of the Bride is a worthy addition to their catalog. It's got a little bit of everything from their previous three releases—the catchy melodies, the laid-back beach vibes, the acutely-used samples, and of course the requisite Paul Simon nods—but here Koenig goes one step further, enlisting a number of outside producers and guests, lending the album a more collaborative feel, all while sounding exactly like Vampire Weekend. Some things are well worth waiting for. Let's just hope it doesn't take until 2025 to get their follow-up.

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