Dust off your Ray-Bans and old pastel polos, ladies and gentlemen, because after a six-year hiatus, your favorite preppy indie band is back with a brand new album! I haven’t worn a polo (lovingly purchased at Aeropostale by my mother) since middle school, but the temptation is there, and here’s why.
I won’t paint too sullen of a picture because of its universality on this campus, but it was Winter Quarter. I was feeling down, feeling exhausted and in need of something to pull me out of this gloomy haze. Enter “Harmony Hall.”
Upon first listen, I knew I was going to love this song. Masked under melancholy lyrics is an upbeat rhythm that makes me want to run through a meadow of flowers, jump on a trampoline and shamelessly shake my hair just like Danielle Haim does in the music video. Ezra Koenig had put whatever was I feeling into words – “I don’t want to live like this, but I don’t want to die.” Neither one of us was was looking at the glass half empty, but we weren’t looking at it half full either.
Roughly three-and-a-half months later, the band released their fourth album Father of the Bride. The fast-paced, happy-go-lucky mood that the previously released singles gave off continues here. It's that feeling of being sad and waiting for something better while also trying to live in the present is unmistakable from beginning to end.
I have to mention that I am a HAIM superfan, so when I heard Danielle Haim’s vocals on “This Life” and watched her and her sisters perform it on Saturday Night Live alongside Koenig, nothing else mattered. Haim and Koenig kick off the album with “Hold You Now,” and the HAIM lead singer is featured on two more songs, yet you can hear her soothing backup vocals all over the album. Both of them make getting “Married in a Gold Rush” sound lovely, though the lyrics paint reality as disappointing and bleak.
The album sounds just as beautiful as the cover art looks, and without Koenig explicitly shouting “the Earth is dying because of us, and we’re the only ones who can save it,” the song titles do the yelling on their own. “Unbearably White” might sound like the band being self-aware (sorry, I had to), but it’s actually about running up mountain peaks to avoid an avalanche of emotions. Though short, “Sunflower” brings the gentle image of a garden at your windowsill to the listener, setting up the dreamy, hazy feel of “Flower Moon.”
As I mentioned earlier, the album starts off in a hurry but slows down more than halfway through. It invites me to dance, then spins me all across the dance floor. As the night starts to near the end, we’re winding down and revelling in the moment. The transition from “My Mistake” to “Sympathy,” one of my favorites from the album, is perfect. The song stalls at just the right places, acting as an interlude that coaxes me to lie down instead of to dance like the other songs do. But just when I’m ready to retreat, lie down and close my eyes, “Sympathy” speeds up and jolts me awake. The momentum doesn’t stop, and instead keeps rushing toward us in “Stranger,” like that avalanche Koenig mentioned earlier. And then it trickles its way down to the end, calmly and smoothly in “Jerusalem, New York, Berlin.”
Father of the Bride took me through feelings of pain, heartache and love in just under an hour, but it left me feeling hopeful – the same message that I received from that first listen of “Harmony Hall.” Whether it was realizing that “pain is as natural as the rain,” or that “I took myself too serious. It’s not too serious,” this album was the affirmation that I needed to tell me that there’s room to grow, that change is present in every part of life. Vampire Weekend hooked me in, yet again, and I can’t even be mad that they took so long do so.