It has seemed like a life time since Vampire Weekend’s fantastic second album was released, but within those first few seconds of their latest album, it became all too apparent the New York boys had done it again. I had a pretty big hunch that this was going to be everything I wanted it to be after hearing Dianne Young and the ridiculously catchy Step a few weeks ago. Vampire Weekend has always had this funny way of catching me off guard. Their debut album didn’t come directly to my attention when it was released in 2008. To me they were the indie pop group that sang the quite frankly annoying A-Punk, or as I like to call it “the song that was on every advert that year”. I eventually gave them a go, it was 2 albums for £10 in HMV and I needed something to go along with the newest Sigur Ros album. They floored me, better than they had any right to be, and that poor Sigur Ros album fell by the way side. Two years later came Contra, their sophomore album, which I am going to admit, I had little faith in to top its predecessor. In perfect Vampire Weekend style, I was wrong, they were right and Contra became my favorite album of 2010.
So here we are in 2013, the difficult third album is upon us. I promised myself this time I would not be surprised to be impressed by the jolly foursome. Finally, finally I got it right. Bursting into the Modern Vampires of the City with Obvious Bicycle, a brilliantly chilled song, familiar territory with the other two albums, but that’s a good thing, right?. Unbelievers takes us to the chirpier side of the album, followed by the wonderful Step and Dianne Young (two songs you should already be familiar with). The jewels of the album for me have to be Hannah Hunt, Ya Hey and Finger Back. The beauty in this album though is not just in the typically colorful songs that litter it; the final songs visit darker territory. The odd and slightly macabre Hudson shows a different side to the Vampire Weekend we know. The final song, Young Lion carries on the tradition of capping the album off with my favorite of the bunch, hauntingly simple, less than two minutes long, but joins The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance and Contra as a glorious full stop to a glorious album. I can’t wait for the fourth installment of the Vampire Weekend legacy, but when they are coming up with material like this, I will wait another life time for it.
The return of the band that conquered my heart with Heart of the Nightlife in 2010 after being introduced to them through a particularly long car journey into Wales (BEST.JOURNEY.EVER). People Can Do The Most Amazing Things became one of my favourite singles of all time and I eagerly awaited their return. I would have to wait a lot longer than I would have liked, but the bands regular interaction with fans through Twitter and Facebook (including me and a few friends of mine) has kept interest going over the years and revealed a caring for their fan base that many bands lack.
I attempted to avoid any early reviews of Kids in LA, but a passing conversation revealed the band would be getting a little darker with the second album. Once I delved in, it wasn’t immediately apparent with Up All Night, a song that could have blended perfectly into their first album, which again isn’t a bad thing. This trend carries through The Hardest Part and Huddle. My first indication that this was continuing the brilliant Kisses set with Nightlife was with At the Pool, a song that feels short, but the dark tones previously mentioned become more apparent. Possible summer anthem Funny Heartbeat almost instantaneously becomes my most loved song of Kids in LA, its enchantingly upbeat rhythm makes me yearn for the summer time. Then it came, like a bullet to the head, Air Conditioning comes along and knocks Funny Heartbeat off the top spot with nostalgic lyrics of a life I wished I could have lived, the second half of the album was off to a great start.
The final songs pan out as follows: Having Friends Over returns to their previous albums territory, with a slightly edgier sound to it. We slow things down with Bruins; a much needed speed bump for the album, its contrast with the fast flowing previous songs makes it one of the most memorable tunes of the album. Just when I thought it was all winding down, the final piece of this most vibrant of jigsaws falls into place. Adjust Glass throws a female voice into the mix, and it concludes the album brilliantly. I would say I would have liked to have heard more from Zinzi Edmundson on vocals in the past 8 songs, but perhaps saving it for the end was the genius stroke they were going for, because it really ends Kids of LA on a stratospheric note. All in all, here is an album that lives up to its precursor without changing too much nor staying entirely the same. Now to listen to both dazzling albums again . . . for the next few weeks