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My Top 18 Albums Of 2013: # 13 – Modern Vampires Of the City – Vampire Weekend

Putting the Bat into Bat Mitzvah


























It doesn’t matter to me if Modern Vampires Of The City -a sort of Talking Heads meets Paul Simon for the 21st Century, is overestimated, or that an album as high on my own best of 2013 list is flawed… and not just because I saw them live twice and was sadly unfulfilled both times.

But it is overestimated because everybody skips over “Don’t Lie”, “Everlasting Arms”, “Worship You”, “Hudson” and “Young Lion”. “Worship You” is a twista with a naff verse, “Hudson” is art rock, “Young Lion” faux classic”, “Don’t Lie” techno as classic rock, and a couple of deep album tracks.

What people respond to, above what they should be responding to, is Vampire Weekend using modern production to make an old fashioned BIG STATEMENT album which still manages to maintain its scale. In every way an album can keeps its sense of proportion correct, Ezra, Rosman, Baoi and Tomson, present a search for God (and find Him oh “Hey Ya”) and self. Or rather, Ezra and Rosman do, the band feels like a duo plus now, like the Smiths were.

The big small scope also functions as a continuation , Chapter Three of the adventures of a Jewish man growing up upper middle class in New York City. Nearing 30 years of age Ezra is well past college crushes and grammar rushes and is deep into his life. Long term relationships, big time success, the rock star as grown up, checking out the synagogue, worrying about marriagae, raising children, break ups and make ups and Yahweh between the segues. The truth is, you don’t choose your religion, your religion is chosen before your born and while if you are lucky it may not infect your life, most likely, and certainly for Torah readers, that will not happen. It is stupid to ignore your religion if people will, even in the 21st Century, kill you for it.

This isn’t subtext on Modern Vampires Of The City, with its strange echo of  “The Elders Of Zion”title? I still don’t see why more isn’t being made of Ezra being Jewish when it reverberates through Rolling Stones album of the year… I mean, the falafel shop is on 104th street not in Brooklyn’s “Little Damascus”.

And, of course, the other seven songs are excellent. There is no fighting it,from “Hannah Hunt” to “Ya Hey” there is a level of connection with the art and history, with the fans and the wannabes, with indie rock and alt rock, with their peers and their position at the top of rock and roll bands, that it is certainly one of the best albums of the year. It is a New York album by a New York band and a direct antecedent of The Velvet Underground.

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