The band's fourth record is "80% done"
The release of 2013’s ‘Modern Vampires of the City’ – Vampire Weekend‘s third album and the last we heard, musically speaking, from the collective New York indie prep school dons – seems like a long time ago now. Luckily there’s a follow-up on the way. Much has changed for the band in the interim but, if the evidence currently available is anything to go by, long-term fans are in for an absolute treat. Here’s everything we know so far.
There’s been a line-up change
A quarter of the group, Rostam Batmanglij, has departed the group – though there’s no bad blood and, in fact, he will even appear on parts of the upcoming album. Koenig told Entertainment Weekly: “We’re working on some songs in the exact same way we’ve always worked. We have some stuff that we started a pretty long time ago.” Long-term producer Ariel Rechtstaid is back twiddling the knobs, so don’t expect a total overhaul.
The record is “80% done”
Back in September last year, a highly extra fan tweeted Koenig a picture of a delicious pie she’d made, with the message “Where’s the album” written in pastry on the top. He replied: “80% done but the last 20% is always the hardest”. There’s no release date confirmed yet, but we’ll keep you posted – and we promise that’s not pie in the sky.
And there’s even a working title
In a highly revealing Instagram post shared last March, Keonig confirmed that the album is currently called Mitsubishi Macchiato “cuz it is a helpful concept”. He also argued that “guitar’s not dead”, implying the album won’t stray far from the indie pop sound that heralded the band’s arrival with 2008’s self-titled debut. We glimpsed a couple of song titles, too: ‘Conversation’ and ‘Flower Moon’. The musician wrote: “Flower Moon is hard to finish but I think it belongs on the album.” Keep on trucking, Ezra!
Curiously, it might be influenced by Ezra’s Netflix show, Neo Yokio
Yes, Vampire Weekend (members both present and semi-past) have spread their wings somewhat since Modern Vampires… Batmanglij worked on the soundtrack to his brother Zal’s (excellent) sci-fi Netflix show The OA, while bassist Chris Baio and percussionist Chris Tomson both released solo albums. For his part, Koenig created and co-wrote and co-produced an anime Netflix cartoon named Neo Yokio, which featured the voices of Jaden Smith, Jude Law and Tavi Gevinson. Speaking to Pitchfork about the show, he revealed that his diversification into a new artform could seep into the fourth album. “This next album is pushing in a lot of different directions,” he said. “There’s one or two things that make me nervous, but there has always been some sense of that with anything that I’ve ever been a part of that was good.” Anyone else have the sense that Keonig is out on a limb with one?
There’ll be guests aplenty
Hoo boy, will there be guests! Koenig has worked with Kanye West and told Rolling Stone that the artist’s collaborative approach to creativity had rubbed off on him. “I had this experience where I was in the studio with Kanye in Mexico,” he said. “It was so different than anything I’d done. One day [Dirty Projectors frontman] Dave Longstreth is there; the next day Big Sean shows up. Sometimes it wasn’t people working, just talking about music.” This struck the musician as an exciting way of working: “I was, like, ‘I like this atmosphere. I need to loosen up.’ So I’ve been working with this 68-year-old guitarist, Greg Leisz, and this 18-year-old guitarist, Steve Lacy. A bunch of other people have been coming in and out.”
And it might be a bit more straightforward than Vampire Weekend’s previous output
In that Instagram post, Keonig said the new album will be “a lil more springtime” than Modern Vampires… Given that that album had a May release, let’s assume he’s not being literal. Perhaps he means that, sonically, it’s a bit more breezy than the band’s last album, which was a complex and highly mature work.
This seems to be backed up by the conversation he had with Entertainment Weekly, in which he revealed the influence that the Texan country singer Kacey Musgraves has had upon him. Koenig watched her perform in 2016. “She would start to sing and I realised, within the first 30 seconds, I knew what the song was about..” he told the publication. “There are very few Vampire Weekend songs that could be summed up in a sentence. I used to be proud of that, and now I’m a little ashamed of it.”
But it won’t be trap
In that Entertainment Weekly interview, Koenig said: “Nobody wants to hear the Vampire Weekend trap album.” Well, we wouldn’t go that far, Ezra…