Vampire Weekend — Father of the Bride (May 3, 2019)        Vampire Weekend — Father of the Bride (May 3, 2019) Pamela MÃÃÃÃÃÃÃéndez ÃÃÃÃÃÃâ Time (22 Feb 2019)★     Zápisník skvělých nápadů! Father of the Bride je tak horlivě, detailně a pečlivě konturované album, že se snadno potopíte do jeho vynálezů: do víru countryového fingerpickingu, surfování na kytaru a klasické mezihry v „Harmony Hall“; smyčkového hip~hopu v „Sunflower“ s progresivním hlasovým riffem; Sowetu podobnému skotačení, AutoTuned — tedy zvukovému procesoru od Antares Audio Technologies, stylově podobnému chorálu Beach Boys v písni „Flower Moon.“
Formed: 2006 in New York, NY
Location: New York City, New York
Album release: May 3, 2019
Recorded: January 2016~August 2018
• Effie Street, Silverlake, CA
• Vox, Hollywood, CA
• Sony, Akasaka, Minato, Japan
Record Label: XL Recordings, Hostess
Duration:     57:54
01. Hold You Now (feat. Danielle Haim)   2:34
02. Harmony Hall   5:09
03. Bambina   1:43
04. This Life   4:29
05. Big Blue   1:49
06. How Long?   3:32
07. Unbearably White   4:40
08. Rich Man   2:30
09. Married in a Gold Rush (feat. Danielle Haim)   3:42
10. My Mistake   3:19
11. Sympathy   3:47
12. Sunflower (feat. Steve Lacy)   2:18
13. Flower Moon (feat. Steve Lacy)   3:57
14. 2021   1:38
15. We Belong Together (feat. Danielle Haim)   3:11
16. Stranger   4:09
17. Spring Snow   2:42
18. Jerusalem, New York, Berlin   2:55
By DAVID FRICKE; Score: ★★★★½
★   The first album in six years from Ezra Koenig and Co. is rich ear candy loaded with helplessness and crisis.
★   At 18 songs in under an hour, Vampire Weekend’s first album in six years sounds at first like a manic effort to make up lost time. Singer~guitarist Ezra Koenig, the band’s composer~lyricist and a co~producer on virtually every track, has stuffed his hooks and bridges with so many change~ups in rhythm, guitar tone and dramatic instrumental flourish that, by the finish, you feel like you’ve been whipped through a modern~pop homage to the Beatles’ Abbey Road medley — twice over.
★   Father of the Bride is so zealously detailed and meticulously contoured that you easily sink into its inventions: the whirl of country picking, surf~guitar twang and classical interlude in “Harmony Hall”; the loopy hip~hop of “Sunflower” with its creeping~vocal riff; the Soweto~like bounce and AutoTuned~Beach Boys~style chorale in “Flower Moon.” But this is ear candy loaded with trouble. Frustration, helplessness and romantic crisis come just like the songs, in grenade~like bursts, as Koenig delivers bad news like the “wicked snakes” in “Harmony Hall” (“Inside a place/You thought was dignified”) with disarmingly clean~cut vocal brio.
★   “Unbearably White” could easily be read as Koenig’s self~deprecating twist on his singing and his band: Vampire Weekend’s Ivy League origins, the breezy Afro~Caribbean cadence of their early records. In fact, the title comes from images of chilly, suffocating emptiness (heavy snow on the verge of an avalanche; a blank diary page awaiting confession), served with slinky guitar, fluid jazz~fusion bass and fluttering orchestration.  In “How Long,” Koenig undercuts the comic flair — funky~Seventies guitar, foghorn synth — with snarky bitterness. And in his trilogy of duets with Danielle Haim (of the Los Angeles trio Haim), spread across the album like a serial, the two joust from breakup to happy~ever~after like an indie~rock version of Johnny and June Cash. “Hallelujah you’re still mine/All I did was waste your time,” Koenig croons in the campy finale “We Belong Together,” which evokes Kanye West producing Wings’ “Mull of Kintyre.”
★   Much has changed for Vampire Weekend between this album and their last, 2013’s Modern Vampires of the City. The New York~born group is now a trio: Koenig, drummer Chris Tomson and bassist Chris Baio. Multi~instrumentalist Rostam Batmanglij left in early 2016, insisting he would still work with Koenig. But Batmanglij appears once on this album as a producer and co~writer, while Koenig — who is now based in L.A. and lent a writer~producer hand to Beyoncé’s 2016 hit “Hold Up” — broadens his reach here, collaborating with pop and hip~hop outsiders Bloodpop and DJ Dahi.
★   Aside from the New Order~style inferno “Sympathy” and the flashback to Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl” in “This Life,” there is very little rock on Father of the Bride, at least of the kind that defined New York’s turn~of~the~millennium guitar~band boom. Vampire Weekend were late arrivals, lacking the Strokes’ switch~blade attitude and the art~punk edge of the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s. But Vampire Weekend now look like the smartest guys in the room, marshalling a sumptuous, emotionally complex music perfect in this pop moment. “Sooner or later the story gets told,” Koenig sings in “Unbearably White.” “To tell it myself would be unbearably bold.” Then he tells it to extremes. 
By Matt Bobkin
Published Apr 29, 2019; Score: 8
•ο→     Much has been made about Vampire Weekend’s aesthetic, from the polo shirts and boat shoes dress code that usurped attention in their early days to the thematically aligned album covers of their first three albums, featuring curated photo stills from different decades that all felt plucked from the same world.
•ο→     It’s fitting, then, that the cover of Father of the Bride depicts a very different world, a cartoonish version of our own with stretched, 1995~era WordArt spelling out the title. On the band’s first album in six years, and first since the departure of producer/multi~instrumentalist Rostam Batmanglij, the cover alone invites listeners to perceive anew, to unpack their pre~conceptions and expect something different.
•ο→     Helmed by frontman Ezra Koenig and trusty collaborator Ariel Rechtshaid, Vampire Weekend has transitioned into a collaborator~driven project, with a who’s who of guests new and old joining in for the project’s biggest album to date. To keep things cohesive despite the album’s lengthy, guest~driven structure, Koenig wisely enlists several key contributors for multiple appearances, providing the album with several interwoven threads that recur with expert timing. Danielle Haim shows up to add some country twang, while the Internet’s Steve Lacy brings some lounge jazz vibes to the proceedings. Shorter interludes like “Bambina,” “Big Blue” and “Rich Man,” sprinkled throughout as palate cleansers, help keep the album moving along without becoming overwrought.
•ο→     Father of the Bride nimbly juggles many ideas while also anxiously anticipating the many narratives that the world at large have been ascribing to the band since they blew up over a decade ago including, but not limited to: Batmanglij’s departure (he offers some guest production on several tracks); accusations of cultural appropriation (in addition to more Graceland comparisons, yes, there’s scatting); the project’s Ivy League origins, as expressed through lyrical esoterica (with wide~ranging references to history and pop culture that could give James Holzhauer a run for his money).
•ο→     Someone as hyper~aware as Koenig can’t ever fully close his eyes to the criticisms, but the album’s best moments come when he puts them as far away in the distance as he can: highlight “Unbearably White,” which takes its name from a glib phrase often lobbed against Vampire Weekend and their cohort of mid~aughts indie rockers, sidesteps the criticism entirely for vague lyrics about relationships wrapped in metaphorical snow-capped mountains. “Sooner or later, the story gets told,” he sings. “To tell it myself would be unbearably bold.”
•ο→     Vampire Weekend have never taken themselves too seriously (they’ve had plenty of critics to do so instead), and now that they’re mostly unburdened from the narratives of their past, Father of the Bride finds them at their most relaxed, jovial and inviting. Or, as Koenig asserts at the start of “Sympathy,” a late~album flamenco cut that serves as one of the band’s most bonkers tracks to date: “Sometimes I take myself too serious; it’s not that serious.”  •ο→ 
Alexis Petridis, Thu 2 May 2019 13.51 BST. Score: ★★★★