Vampire Weekend, ‘Modern Vampires of the City’ (XL)
The cover of Vampire Weekend’s third studio album, “Modern Vampires of the City,” features New York Times photographer Neal Boenzi’s historic 1966 photo of a day of record smog in New York City that killed dozens of people.
Despite the gloomy, ominous image of choking pollution, the new CD celebrates urban life (and some New York history) with light, bouncy, slyly inventive songs. This is a summery album, even if the colors are muted.
“Modern Vampires of the City” is an engaging collection of Ivy League rock from the beloved New York quartet, which sounds like the sons of ’60s folkies Chad & Jeremy reinventing that classic duo’s ethereal sounds with the urbane flair of downtown hipsters. “The gloves are off, the wisdom teeth are out,” Ezra Koenig sings in “Step,” a song about growing up and getting wiser. Koenig’s delicate, lighter-than-air vocals float through stirring melodies like feathers in a breeze.
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Among the more adventurous songs is “Diane Young,” in which Koenig sounds like a ’50s crooner (“Baby, baby, baby”) while drums and synthesizers explode around him. But the tone occasionally turns dark. “Hudson” relates the tragic story of explorer Henry Hudson, set adrift by his crew during a mutiny.
Koenig has described the artful new CD as “the last of a trilogy.” For longtime fans, it should prove irresistible.
Gene Stout, Special to The Seattle Times
Other new releases
George Strait, “Love Is Everything” (MCA Nashville)
Bobby McFerrin, “Spirityouall” (Sony Masterworks)
Mark Lanegan and Duke Garwood, “Black Pudding” (Ipecac)