Vampire Weekend - “Unbelievers”
In a year where both Vampire Weekend and Arcade Fire put out albums that took their sound in new directions, in my mind, it’s Vampire Weekend’s expansion of their sound that wins out over Arcade Fire’s messy (but often very good) attempt to try damn near every genre .
Every song on Modern Vampires of the City is unmistakably a Vampire Weekend song, but is also so much more mature and grand than anything off of Contra. As they’ve moved past the pure afro-pop sound, Vampire Weekend has figured out how to keep the textures and beats of that genre, but meld them into their own sound. It’s no longer a band doing their best to approximate a modern day Paul Simon and Ladysmith Black Mambazo. It’s Vampire Weekend, with all of their influences brought together into a beautiful and buoyant, yet often melancholy, album.
“Unbelievers” is my favorite, because it feels so un-Vampire Weekend-like (how’s that for hyphenation?) yet is so very Vampire Weekend. Lyrically, it’s clearly a Vampire Weekend album. It’s got their trademark hook; incredibly catchy, yet still smart. It’s a song about the gap between the religious and non, and it echoes that religious with its church organ, hand claps, and drums that push the song along like you’re at a revival. “Unbelievers” is, maybe, one of the most straightforward songs Vampire Weekend’s ever made musically. But that’s all it needs to be.
More on that Arcade Fire album at some point. I’m still not sure how I feel about it.