Welcome back to Vampire Weekend's world, where Berkeley communists mix with New York's "Champagne and disco," and romance is soaked with the nostalgia of youth. "Step" is Vampire Weekend's first new music since 2010's Contra, and it finds the band continuing to play with expectations while sounding absolutely comfortable with itself. While VW's first record may have added Lil Jon references to jaunty prep, and the second expanded the band's penchant for global rhythms, "Step" plays like an alternative version of modernist 20th century pop.
"Ancestors told me that their girl was better," sings Ezra Koenig as he self-consciously pokes at his band's own anachronisms. Combined with the song's vaguely Gallic lean (the band's shared affinities with Wes Anderson have never been more obvious) and lyrics that sound pulled from the student literature of past decades, "Step" is both bitingly smart and fortune-cookie obtuse. "The gloves are off / The wisdom teeth are out," goes one repeated couplet. By itself, it may sound like cleverly disguised gobbledygook, but in the context of Vampire Weekend's twee naiveté and gleeful appropriation, "Step" comes off as wonderfully wise.
Modern Vampires of the City is out May 7 via XL Recordings.
Vampire Weekend –– Modern Vampires of the City
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