Vampire Weekend: Everything we know about the band's highly anticipated new album
The little bits and pieces of information floating around fan forums, and a few teases from Vampire Weekend, suggest that we have something very promising to look forward to
It has been five years since Vampire Weekend dropped their highly acclaimed third album 'Modern Vampires of the City'. For a group that usually takes about two to three years between subsequent albums, this gap has been unusually long. But this year, hints emerged suggesting that the highly anticipated fourth album would be arriving soon.
A lot has transpired since 'Modern Vampires' for the NYC-based indie darlings. There's been a change in the lineup and switch in record labels, among several other developments. There hasn't been an official word about the new album and Vampire Weekend are keeping things close to the chest. But from the little bits and pieces of information floating around fan forums and the few teases from the band, it looks like we have something very promising to look forward to.
So here's a quick rundown of everything we know so far and what to expect.
What stage is the album in?
While Vampire Weekend hit the summer circuit of music festivals earlier this year, frontman Ezra Koenig teased audiences with an update on the new album. In May, Koenig proclaimed with half-joking accuracy that their new album was “94.5%” complete. During their Lollapalooza Chicago gig in August, Koenig revealed that the recording process was complete and that it was in the mastering stage.
“I wanted to tell you that the album is done now,” he said. “I mean, we’re mastering it but it’s done. More on that to come – in the meantime, just enjoy the rest of your summer.”
What has changed since 'Modern Vampires of the City'?
Following the conclusion of their Modern Vampires tour on January 26, 2016, multi-instrumentalist and co-founder Rostam Batmanglij announced that he would be stepping away from the band to pursue his solo project under the name 'Rostam'. He went on to release his solo debut the following year in the form of the indietronica chart-topper 'Half-Light'.
But the band has made it very clear that there's no bad blood between the band and Rostam. In fact, it's been confirmed that he'll even be contributing to some parts of the new record. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Koenig revealed: “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.”
For their live shows, the core trio of Koenig, bassist Chris Baio and drummer Chris Tomson has been augmented by Greta Morgan on keyboards, guitar and backing vocals, Brian Robert Jones on guitar, Garrett Ray on additional percussion, and Will Canzoneri on keyboards and vocals. But there's still no official word on what the steady lineup will be or if someone will be filling in full-time for Batmanglij, but the touring lineup doubles up on both synths and guitars so don't expect a sound that leans heavily towards either of the two.
It was also rumored that the band had left their longtime label XL Recordings for a major move over to Columbia. But it was later confirmed that they’ve signed up with Sony Music instead.
What will the new record sound like?
In March 2017, Koenig revealed in an elaborate Instragram update that during 2016 he had spent countless hours researching and writing music in libraries with grad students.
He also added that the new album would feature a more 'spring-time' vibe. Koenig revealed that the record would be partially inspired by the songwriting of country singer Kacey Musgraves after he attended one of her shows in September 2016. In an interview with Stereogum, he stated, "I’m the type of person who has spent hours poring over the avant-garde poetic lyrics of certain songwriters, and there was something that felt so good [about how] from the first verse, you knew who was singing, who they were singing to, what kind of situation they were in. After the show I realized there’s not a ton of Vampire Weekend songs where you could listen to the first verse and immediately answer the question of who’s singing and who are they singing to.”
Two key factors that could affect the band's sound are the departure of Rostam and the switch over to a major music label. It'll be interesting to see how they play out. Ezra Koenig also debuted five demos at the afterparty of the Chicago Lollapalooza gig. But since no cell phones were allowed inside, we have no idea what they sound like. Well, almost.
One superfan who was at the venue took to Reddit after the gig to tell everyone else what's up. "The best way I could describe the sound is a more spacey and empty sounding record, almost reminiscent of [Fleet Foxes’] ‘Crack Up’ in parts, but VERY bright and sunny – a summertime sound with almost a protest song sound vibe to them (no political lyrics I heard or anything like that)," the fan wrote.
"And then big dense flashes of instrumentation with heavy percussion and a slick, almost sexy taste of ’70s funk licks. Going to be an interesting record.”
Meanwhile, long-term producer Ariel Rechtstaid is still helming production for the album, so don't expect a major left turn, at least in terms of production. One thing is for sure though - it won't be a trap album. “Nobody wants to hear the Vampire Weekend trap album,” Koenig said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. But nobody was expecting that in the first place!
Does the album have a title yet?
Although there hasn't been an official listing of the title, In a highly revealing Instagram post shared last March, Keonig confirmed that the album is currently called ‘Mitsubishi Macchiato’. The reason? As Koenig wrote in cryptic fashion in the caption: “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.
Release date and tracklist
In the aforementioned Instagram post, Koenig also gave away two of the song titles. One is called 'Conversation' and the other is called 'Flower Moon'. "Flower Moon is hard to finish but I think it belongs on the album," he wrote. Not much else is known about the tracklist or the total length of the album.
As to when the album will arrive, the specifics of it still remains a mystery but considering how it's in the mastering stage, the first half of 2019 should be a safe bet. Earlier in November, ahead of Ezra Koenig's “GQ LIVE” event at Neuehouse Hollywood in Los Angeles, the publication indicated that the album was due for release in 2019. But that went unconfirmed and GQ removed any references to Vampire Weekend's upcoming album in their announcement of the event.