All-Time Favourites: Vampire Weekend

All-Time Favourites: Vampire Weekend
Photo Credit: Alex John Beck

I’ve gotten to a point where I’m just desperately waiting for a new Vampire Weekend album to come out. It’s been just over three years since the band released their third album Modern Vampires of the City, and I’m itching to hear new music. Since then, a band-member has left, one has released a solo album, one got married, and another one has featured on multiple songs, lending his vocal talents to other bands and musicians. A lot has changed for them, and I think the same goes for their fans. So, while I anxiously wait for new content to be released, I figured I’d round up a list of some of my absolute favourite Vampire Weekend tracks and break them down a little for you all. This might be difficult.

Starting off with their self-titled debut album, there are a few songs on that record that I absolutely adore, the first one being ‘M79.’ The track is simple yet complex, with lyrics that don’t stray too far from one another and follow a single, linear narrative. The interest comes in the melody, with both a cello and a violin playing difficult arrangements of notes that create a soaring, free kind of effect. The result is beautiful, and I never find myself growing tired of it. ‘Walcott’ is another instant favourite, the kind of track that you turn up really loud as you drive along coastal highways with the windows rolled down and salty air blowing your hair in a million different directions. It’s for singing at the top of your lungs and dancing around with your friends. It’s really a quintessential summer song, but it’s one layered with magic and happiness. That’s the best kind, really. ‘The Kids Don’t Stand A Chance’ finishes off the album with a bang, slowing things down and really showcasing Ezra Koenig’s vocal range. I like how airy and effortless it feels, and it’s a nice change compared to the pop-tinged chaos that describes many of the bands’ other tracks.

Contra is a love-hate kind of album. I know a lot of people who adore it and would call it the best record the band has released and I know others who can’t stand it. I’m probably somewhere in between, but there are definitely songs on the album that I could listen to on repeat forever and ever. ‘White Sky’ is a song that embodies a tiny moment, and I like that it still feels important and expansive. It captures a little piece of someone’s life, but one that’s enough to write a song about. Sometimes the little things are the most significant ones. ‘Run’ is another one of my favourites, and it’s a little bit like wanderlust made into a song. And on the minimal occasions where I legitimately tried to take up running (ha), it was definitely on my playlist. I just really like it.

‘Giving Up The Gun’ is another track that Contra definitely has going for it. It’s catchy beyond belief and it gets stuck in your head extremely easily, but I don’t mind one bit. It’s an injection of happiness and positivity and it could lift your spirits in an instant. Vampire Weekend does a good job of shrouding their songs in metaphors, and this one is chock-full of them in the best way. It’s wonderful. My final favourite track from the bands’ sophomore release is ‘Diplomat’s Son,’ a six-minute song documenting a forbidden same-sex relationship. I love it. So much. First of all, it’s an important topic that isn’t often sung about, secondly it’s beautiful, and thirdly it’s soothing and soft. What more could you want? (Nothing. The answer’s nothing.)

Onto the last and most recent Vampire Weekend release: Modern Vampires of the City. This album is by far my favourite thing the band has done, and I’m really struggling to narrow down my favourite songs, because I absolutely love them all. ‘Unbelievers’ is an obvious choice. I like its mildly philosophical lyrics and questions, and the melody is dynamic and pure. It gets an A+ from me. ‘Don’t Lie’ is another one that just does me in every single time. It’s both innocent and mature at once, juxtaposing grown-up lessons with childish beliefs. It’s really just beautiful, and if I could pick one favourite Vampire Weekend song, this might be it. Right after ‘Don’t Lie’ comes ‘Hannah Hunt,’ which I can’t help but mention. Besides the fact that my name is in it and I felt immediately attached to it when I first heard it, it really is an incredible track. It’s full of love and adoration without being over the top, and I like how simply the love is declared. It builds and builds and there’s a moment two minutes and fifty-eight seconds in that many of the bands fans declare to be one of the best moments of their lives. And it might as well be. ‘Everlasting Arms’ follows right after, and that’s another slow burning kind of song that lights a bit of a fire in your eyes and fills you with warmth. It’s one hundred percent worth a listen. Or twelve.

Before I can list off every track on the album, I’m only going to mention two more. ‘Finger Back’ feels like it could be on the band’s first album, and it’s nice and upbeat in the midst of more sombre tracks. There’s a part near the end that feels like poetry or spoken word, and then it transitions to a few closing sentences before ending abruptly in that cool way that some songs just stop. The final track of the album (and of my list) is ‘Young Lion,’ and I can’t gush enough about this one. Beginning with a simple piano intro and consisting of Rostam repeating ‘You take your time/Young lion’ over and over again, it’s a track that feels like a mantra or an affirmation. It’s the perfect ending to a perfect album, and sometimes after I listen to it I feel like I carry it around on my soul. I guess it’s had a lasting impression on me.

Honestly, I would be really happy if Vampire Weekend pulled a Beyoncé and dropped an album tomorrow. I know that’s highly unlikely, but a girl can dream. For now, at least we’ve got three whole albums full of incredible tracks.

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