One of my favourite things about any new Vampire Weekend release, is the savage critique that Jim DeRogatis from Sound Opinions levels at it. While I generally don’t agree with much he says about the band, it is an amusing counterpoint to the near ecstatic reviews the band is used to. On Father of the Bride, this is no different. With producer and multi-instrumentalist Rostam Batmanglij no longer in the band but appearing here, it’s virtually an Ezra Koenig solo effort. And what an effort.
Once again, the band chose to work with Modern Vampires of the City in demand producer, Ariel Rechtshaid. Danielle Haim appears throughout the album most notably on the country sounding first track, “Hold You Now” and on what could be a lost Fleetwood Mac number from the 70s, “We Belong Together”. First single, “Harmony Hall” is the standout track from the first half of the album. Alluding to hate speech appearing in universities, the mostly acoustic verses give way to nice piano bits in the chorus where Koenig makes the, “I don’t want to live like this, but I don’t want to die” lyric sound like an anthem.
Sharing the same name as a Charlie Puth track, “How Long”, has a slinky bassline that powers the music with a killer chorus that could easily be mistaken for the latest slick pop singer on hit radio. One of the hardest songs here, “Sympathy”, with a vocal that sounds similar to Paul Simon, starts a run of music that is one of the best of the year. “Stranger” also shares certain Paul Simon vocal influences but this time in a more upbeat, cheerful track. Coming in at just over two minutes, “Sunflower” and its longer cousin “Flower Moon” both feature Steve Lacy from the band The Internet. “Sunflower” is the strongest of several shorter tracks that appear while the latter has a spoken vocal possibly influenced by Lou Reed.
Coming at eighteen tracks, there are a few slower moments like “Big Blue” that doesn’t leave much of a mark over it’s two minutes and “My Mistake” suffers the same fate. This is minor quibbles on an album that has several runs of great songs. Coming into summer, this is definitely one to have on for long road trips and days at the beach. Regardless of what either Sound Opinion guy says, this is one of the best releases thus far of 2019.