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CD Review: Vampire Weekend's 'Modern Vampires of the City'

Published May 9, 2013 11:13 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

To Vampire Weekend, the music of the entire world is fodder for inspiration. Thankfully the Columbia University-educated quartet is based in New York City, where the rich music of hundreds of ethnicities is played on radios sitting alongside the open windows of hundreds of thousands of homes, flavoring the streets below. On its third album, "Modern Vampires of the City," Vampire Weekend has soaked in all of those influences to create a breathtakingly ambitious amalgam of both world music (whatever that is) and modern pop music where church organs and choirs chanting in Latin are seamlessly integrated with the deep-synth bass and intricate and strident percussion. The album title is taken from Jamaican reggae and dancehall musician Junior Reid's song "One Blood" — "Modern vampires of the city hunting blood" — and the cover of the album is a 1966 New York Times photograph of one of the smoggiest days in the city's history. The menace of those touchstones permeates the album as singer and lyricist Ezra Koenig grapples with mortality in his high tenor. "There's a headstone right in front of you / And everyone I know," he harmonizes. Though the subject matter can sometimes be dark, sanguine and unorthodox melodies carry the day. The band, which performs on May 21 at Red Butte Garden, asks you to joyfully dance to these sprightly songs, while whispering that end times are nigh — but not today.

Grade: A