It’s been awhile since we heard anything new from Vampire Weekend. Their last studio album, “Modern Vampires of the City” came out back in 2013. The two recently released tracks come ahead of their forthcoming album, “Father of the Bride”.
But why the six year lag between albums? Well, in the years between, Vampire Weekend frontman Ezra Koenig has had his hands full with side projects. The most impressive of which, was his creation of the Netflix animated show “Neo Yokio”. Koenig also hosted his “Time Crisis” show on Beats 1, and co-wrote Beyonce’s “Hold Up”. All of that amounts to a very busy schedule.
The two new singles released just two weeks ago, and are already up on Spotify if you want to take a listen yourself. In anticipation of the new Vampire Weekend album, we’ve decided to take a closer look at the two singles, “Harmony Hall” and “2021”.
“Harmony Hall” was written by the band’s Ezra Koenig and co-produced with pop superproducer Ariel Rechtshaid, with additional production by former Vampire Weekend band mate Rostam Batmanglij. Additional help on the song came from guitarist Greg Leisz, who plays the solo, as well as Dave Longstreth of the Dirty Projectors, who also contributes a guitar part.
The song is one of the longer tracks Vampire Weekend have released, coming in at just over five minutes long. It starts quiet, with intricate, acoustic guitar finger picking the melody, that continues throughout the verses. The pre-chorus throws out the guitar entirely, as the song becomes more and more bombastic. Piano, heavy bass, and harmonizing vocals all contribute to the rising energy of the following chorus.
The chorus itself speaks to the sometimes chaotic and rapid change that can occur in our country. No doubt influenced by the recent disruption in America’s current political environment.
“And the stone walls of Harmony Hall bear witness
Anybody with a worried mind could never forgive the sight
Of wicked snakes inside a place you thought was dignified
I don’t wanna live like this, but I don’t wanna die”
In an interview, Ezra Koenig talks about the long period of gestation that “Harmony Hall went through until it was complete. “‘Harmony Hall’ is one of those songs that has deep roots. Vampire Weekend fans might recognize a little shared DNA, lyrically, with some other things I’ve done. It’s one of those songs that started with a piano part, this baroque part that happens in the middle. And then that part developed for a long time; I was always playing it on piano, trying different ways to play it. And then years later I wrote the guitar riff, and then finally it came together and felt like a song.”
“2021” sits in stark contrast to the intricate and bombastic characteristics of “Harmony Hall”. For starters, the song doesn’t even last two minutes. The production has a minimalist feel to it, repeating a refrain from Jenny Lewis, and a synth sample from Haruomi Hosono.
The song focuses on the passage of time, and preoccupies itself with the problem of being remembered.
“2021, will you think about me?
I could wait a year, but I shouldn’t wait three (Boy)
I don’t wanna be (Boy)
2021, will you think about us?
Copper goes green, steel beams go rust (Boy)
It’s a matter of (Boy)”
Overall, I was very excited to stumble upon these new releases. I don’t always keep a practice of combing the web for every new song. But while I was writing today’s Song of the Day article, I happened to notice that Vampire Weekend had some new material out. While I’m less fond of “2021”‘s melancholic tone, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to “Harmony Hall”.
If this is just a small dose of what Vampire Weekend have to offer in their upcoming album, “Father of the Bride”, I’ll be counting down the days till its release. Right now, the album is set to release on May 10, 2019. So if you were looking for another reason to look forward to spring, there you go.