Drop of the Week: Father of the Bride

Artwork courtesy of Vampire Weekend.

At the outset of May, famed alternative pop band Vampire Weekend emerged from their sheltered cocoon of hiatus, delivering us their much-awaited fourth album, Father of the Bride.

Vampire Weekend has carried a steady buzz since their debut over a decade ago. Their maiden, self-titled album shot to popularity with the hit, “A-punk” — currently standing at 174 million plays on Spotify — which most people know as the first song that plays when they charge their phone in a car.

Alas, Vampire Weekend refused to be a one-hit wonder. They trudged forward, following Vampire Weekend with Contra and Modern Vampires of the City.

While the band hasn’t had any hit surpass the popularity of “A-punk,” Vampire Weekend’s presence in the alternative music scene never fizzled out. They have maintained a vivacious cult following, many of whom remained loyal during the band’s six-year hiatus.

In January 2016, multi-instrumentalist Rostam Batmanglij departed from Vampire Weekend, leaving fans unsure of the band’s future. At that point, the band had been on hiatus for three years and a fourth album was not promised.

Three more years later, the release of “Harmony Hall” and “2021” quelled this insecurity, ensuring an album was on its way.

To be succinct, Father of the Bride did not disappoint. Each track on the album carries its own narrative, some following more theatrical storylines, like “Hold You Now” and “Married in a Gold Rush,” both featuring Danielle Haim, a member of the dynamic sister trio Haim.

Other tracks like “2021” and “How Long?” reference the state of our country and world, commenting on climate change and the future of our planet.

The album cover — a simple depiction of Earth on top of a white background accompanied by some black font and an orange accent — is an offbeat choice in art for the band. Vampire Weekend’s other albums are marked by grainy film photographs with a white border and bold white font. This harsh contrast marks a new era of Vampire Weekend — a shift.

Father of the Bride holds the same bouncy melodies and airy vocals juxtaposed with cynical lyrics fans have come to expect from Vampire Weekend, but steps away from the slightly darker feel of their last album, 2013’s Modern Vampires of the City.

Flowing between folk and pop, Father of the Bride provides an array of sounds which exemplify frontman Ezra Koenig’s musical prowess. The track list seamlessly flows from a tale of lovers in a form that is reminiscent of an 80s country love duet — think, “You’re the Reason God Made Oklahoma" — to pure existentialism in an instant without pulling the audience out of the experience.

On “How Long?” Koenig croons, “How long ‘til we sink to the bottom of the sea?” utilizing double entendre to convey the weight of our planet’s inevitable demise and something smaller — a personal sadness which feels like it’s pulling you underwater — at the same time.

Each line of Father of the Bride holds weighty significance, riddled with allusion and metaphor. Despite its deep-seeded existential themes, at face value, this album can be listened to as a laid-back spring soundtrack.

Pitchfork described Father of the Bride as, “the great sigh after a long holding of breath,” and after six years, we can finally exhale.