By Zach Hester

Despite not avidly listening to Vampire Weekend until earlier this year, I found myself on the edge of my seat for their long awaited return that finally happened on Friday. On top of that excitement, it’s a double album, filled to the brim with EIGHTEEN brand new songs.

The band’s fourth studio album, Father of the Bride, is their first under Columbia Records and can be summed up in just a few words like “cozy” and “calm”, or according to Genius.com reviewer Julia Foo, “happy sounding but somewhat upsetting.” I find that explanation to be the most accurate.

After pouring over Vampire Weekend’s discography these last few months (and snagging a ticket to see them this fall in Atlanta), I find that Ezra Koenig is doing some of his best work with this record.

For the first time, the band introduces collaborations with other artists on their songs. They are all brilliant. Danielle Haim shows up with dreamy vocals on the opening track “Hold You Now” as well as “Married in a Gold Rush” and “We Belong Together.” The second of those, “Married in a Gold Rush” ties in with the preceding track, “Rich Man”, both of which reflect on wealth.

The second set of collaborations come with Steve Lacy of The Internet on “Flower Moon” and my personal favorite of the record, “Sunflower.” The latter has a guitar riff that will stay stuck in your head for days.

The majority of this record does sound perfectly happy. It’s in the lyrics that we find the true meaning behind the bee-bop sounds that mask the message. In lead single “Harmony Hall”, Koenig muses on change in America, even if unintended. The lyrics stating “Anger wants a voice / voices want to sing / singers harmonize ‘til they can’t hear anything” could easily stand in for the loudness of our political arena at a time, when we try to scream over each other instead of listening to the opposing point of view.

This record feels like a triumph for the band, in spite of some of the darker lyrical content. The beats have moments harkening back to previous works and those sounds come full circle on Father of the Bride, one of the few records from the first half of 2019 that I’ll remember at the end of the year. I loved this album. It’s earned my first perfect score of the year.

Rating: ★★★★★

Best Songs: Harmony Hall, Bambina, How Long?, Sunflower, We Belong Together