Fragile Answers in Father of the Bride
By Isaiah Ogren
Father of the Bride takes place outside, that much is clear. The luxuriant snaps on “How Long”, the wobbling base on “This Life”, the explicitly naturalistic tracks “Sunflower” and “Big Blue” all evoke Man vs. Nature in a way that Vampire Weekend’s albums of old never have. The gothic arches of “Campus”, the corpulent evocations of class identity on “Diplomat’s Son” have been replaced with sunshine, steel guitar, and goddamn cricket noises. The chacos and dad jeans are on, and it would be easy to dismiss if it wasn’t so compelling.
Frontman Erza Koenig hasn’t lost any of his lyrical potency, and though Father is not as explicitly concerned with faith as Modern Vampires of the City was, spirituality remains a prominent substrate throughout the record. The effortless bon mot, “Baby I know pain is as natural as the rain/ I just thought it didn't rain in California,” opens “This Life,” teeing up a kiss off as self-deprecating as it is damning. “You've been cheating on me/ But I've been cheating through this life and all its suffering/ Oh Christ, am I good for nothing?” The difference is that on Father, Ezra doesn't seem to be waiting for an answer from the almighty. Less metaphysics, more morals; less Milton, more Shakespeare.
At 58 minutes, Father avoids the worst excess that usually accompanies double albums, and while the record doesn’t have the Russell Westbrook play-like-your-hair-is-on-fire urgency of Modern Vampires or even Contra, Father retains the purposive quality that made Vampire Weekend great in the first place. Rather than a series of unknowable riddles, Father of the Bride is an album of fragile answers, leaving it to the listener to pose the questions for themselves.