Secret Meeting score: 57
by Philip Moss
In the era of online streaming, the decision for a crossover indie pop band to release an 18 song double album seems a strange one. Especially when that band is known for making tightly wound, razor sharp pop nuggets. But after six years since their last record – 2013’s wonderful, Modern Vampires in the City – Vampire Weekend return with the sprawling, idiosyncratic Father of the Bride.
Lead single, Harmony Hall’s lyrical content may be a little different: touching upon the existential themes Ezra Koenig now faces as an adult – ‘I don’t wanna live like this; I don’t wanna die!’ But musically it carries on exactly where the band left off; it’s got all the hallmarks of a Vampire Weekend ‘classic’, and has clearly proved popular – racking up over 18 million plays on Spotify alone before the LP was even released.
Unfortunately, this level of quality is not matched elsewhere across the 58 minute run time. Opener, Hold You Now feels like a patchwork demo with a totally unnecessary cameo from Danielle Haim who, in actual fact, doesn’t sound that different to Koenig; the track is also not helped by its throwaway lyrics, which is an issue across the collection – it just feels like Koenig doesn’t really have anything to say. This is very much the case on Bambina, which is a B-side at best and suffers hugely from following the quality and kitchen sink production of Harmony Hall. Mark Ronson makes an appearance on This Life, but it ends up sounding like the Heartbeat theme tune. Big Blue is sweet enough, but finishes before it really starts. How Long? is a miasma of lazy rhyming couplets. And even estranged producer and former member, Rostam Batmanglij – who returns on the co-write, We Belong Together – can’t rescue proceedings on yet another song that feels like it should be exciting, but just isn’t.
One feels the band have tried to make a huge statement by returning with such a mammoth release. In actual fact, they’d have been better focusing on ensuring quality control. But, sadly, that is Father of the Bride’s downfall. If you’re going to take six years out lads, make sure the return is worth the wait.