Pays : United States Label : Columbia Genres et styles : Alt-Pop / Art Pop / Avant-Pop / Dance-Pop / Noise-Pop / Pop-Rock / punk pop Année : 2024

Vampire Weekend – Only God Was Above Us

· par Stephan Boissonneault

Any part-time music listener has at least heard of the metrophilic indie band, Vampire Weekend. They exploded onto the scene with the irresistible “A-Punk,”—a track that quickly became the musical backdrop for any light-hearted Hollywood flick—and became a hugely influential group for their integration of cultural music; Cuban conga, and West African guitar licks and drumbeats in the vein of Paul Simon’s Graceland or even afro funk ala Chic, and orchestral flourishes with modern pop overtones. It was the kind of music you could throw on at a party or study alone with the lights turned off while really reading into the effervescent poeticism of lead singer Ezra Koenig.

For me, Contra saw the band at their best, most exploratory, a breezy-sounding calypso which saw the band getting weirder within their experimentation and song structures. Modern Vampires of the City continued this journey, but I admit it took me a while to latch onto it. There was just too much music around 2013 ok?

Still, regardless of how far Vampire Weekend dove into the strange, it always sounded like Vampire Weekend, easily digestible but pop music that made many musicians scratch their heads, wondering, ‘How did they do that?’ So many bands are one or the other, but Vampire Weekend truly stands alone in this respect. Lots of this spectacular structure came from keyboardist/percussionist Rostam Batmanglij and his departure from the band (although he does still have a producer credit on every album since) was felt on 2019’s Father of The Bride, which had a few catchy numbers, (“Harmony Hall”) but was ultimately forgettable.

So here we are, four years later with Vampire Weekend’s fifth studio album, Only God Was Above Us, an album that takes inspiration from ’90s hip hop, noisy shoegaze, Indian ragas, baroque pop, cinematic ’80s synth, and whatever else was in Vampire Weekend’s periphery at the time of conceptualization. You can tell that the band took time with this project because it is crisp and tight as sin, best listened to with a good set of headphones. Clocking in at 10 songs with 47 minutes, even the lowest moments on this thing are still beguiling, and there are not many low points besides, for example, the simplistic chord progression in “Capricorn,” and maybe the preachy, ‘Listen to me. I know what I’m talking about!’ lyricism on “Ice Cream Piano,” but honestly, I dislike it less and less after each listen.

The production on Only God Was Above Us is on point, with subtle moments, like the upright bass lines on “Connect,” the poppy falsetto under a clarified organ in “Prep School Gangsters” hit by a tremendous violin squeal… This record is about those little moments; that feel almost thrown together quite quickly, like the emphatic James Bond orchestra during the bridge of “The Surfer,” but you know this took hours and days of painstaking arrangement to get right.

“The Surfer,” with its slow post-punk, watery guitar lines and Ezra’s vocal riffing on social decay, statues, and only god knows what else, is probably my favourite on the album, if not one of my favourite Vampire Weekend songs, which probably puts me in a different category of Vampire Weekend fans cause it’s one of their slowest, and most melancholic (thanks Rostam). Other standouts are the punky goth guitar-led “Gen-X Cops,” an obvious single with its distorted level of pop that makes you want to scream with it, but then comes “Mary Boone,” which is pure magic … a classic Vampire Weekend song in theme and lyricism about a disgraced art dealer from Brooklyn that has a full choir behind it, arpeggiated piano leads, a sitar raga section, a hip hop drumbeat, all packaged together into an easy listening musical cornucopia.

Last but not least is “Pravda,” ah yes the Russian word for truth but also about leaving family struggle behind, signaled by a heavy shoegaze outro and then “Hope,” an amazing, if not a little long, orchestral indie rock closer. Chef’s kiss. The Vampires are back and have done it again.


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