You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Vampire Weekend’s New Music Nods to Steve Martin, the Dead and the Band’s College Roots

After a five-year drought, Ezra Koenig and Co. are back with two songs.

Vampire Weekend’s last album, 2013’s “Modern Vampires of the City,” racked arguably the best reviews of the band’s already sound career for some smart sonic multitasking that no longer leaned heavily on twee twists on African sounds. This week, the band finally resumed that trajectory back to North America with a teaser (“120 Minutes of Harmony Hall Guitars”) and then a pair of actual tracks, “Harmony Hall” and its B-side of sorts, “2021.”

Named after a building on the Columbia University campus (preppy frontman Ezra Koenig’s alma mater), “Harmony Hall” is a brightly eclectic take on a roots-jam. It’s reminiscent of the Grateful Dead and features such folksy wisdom as, “I don’t wanna live like this, but I don’t wanna die.”

There’s little evidence in “Harmony Hall” of Koenig’s extracurriculars over the past six years — including stints working with Diplo, Kanye, and Beyoncé (his work on “Hold Up” from “Lemonade” earned him a Grammy nod). But they do manifest, however, in the much more humbled, balladic “2021,” a Casio-lite exercise in minimalism that samples the work of Japanese musician Haruomi Hosono and features sparse vocals from Jenny Lewis, as Koenig spends his time sweetly exploring R&B-pop vocal cadences.

Both tracks will appear on the band’s upcoming album FOTB, or “Father of the Bride,” which boasts a staggering 18 tracks. A nod to the Steve Martin rom-com, the work touches on Koenig fatherhood (his partner, actress Rashida Jones, gave birth to their son last fall) and relationships. Already, lyrics like the irreverent death wish of “Diane Young” (“Out of control but you’re playing a role”) have given way to more earnest musings such as “2021, will you think about me?”

There are some familiar contributors on FOTB: Ariel Rechtshaid (who co-produced “Modern Vampires of the City”) pops up again as a producer, as does former Vampire Weekender Rostam Batmanglij, who played a hand in “Harmony Hall.” But this will also be the band’s first album with features — perhaps a byproduct of Koenig’s recent period of collaboration — from The Internet’s Steve Lacy and others.

In a modern twist on the record-singles club of yore, Koenig plans drop two new songs each month through April. It feels like a dramatic unveiling of an artist re-discovering himself, and we are so here for that.

Listen to both tracks below:

Vampire Weekend's New Music Nods to Steve Martin, the Dead and the Band's College Roots

More Music

  • A-chan, Kashiyuka, Nocchi. A-chan, from left,

    J-Pop Stars Perfume Talk Coachella, Influences and Sourdough Bread

    One of Japan’s most popular groups, Perfume became the first J-Pop act to ever take the stage at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival with a performance last weekend. Formed in 2000, the electro-pop trio will do another set at the fest’s Gobi Tent on Sunday. That concert will conclude Perfume’s U.S. tour to promote their album, “Future Pop.” Nocchi [...]

  • Texas Tech Virginia NCAA Basketball Final

    Chris Brown and Nicki Minaj to Tour Together This Fall (EXCLUSIVE)

    A day after Variety broke the news that Nicki Minaj has parted company with her longtime managers, sources close to the situation confirm that she will tour this fall with with Chris Brown. This week the pair released a collaborative single with G-Eazy called “Wobble Up.” While no itinerary was immediately available and it was [...]

  • Christine and the Queens at Coachella

    Christine and the Queens Pull Out of Coachella Due to Death in Family

    Christine and the Queens have bowed out of their scheduled Saturday night gig on Coachella’s second stage, citing the death of singer Héloïse Letissier’s mother as the reason for not returning for weekend 2. Although Letissier (pictured above performing during Coachella’s first weekend) sings in English, the French-born singer delivered the news in a tweet [...]

  • FILE - In this Aug. 28,

    Everything We Know About Kanye West's Sunday Service at Coachella

    Coachella attendees who were hoping to sleep in Sunday morning after Kid Cudi’s midnight set the night before are out of luck, at least if they want to attend Kanye West’s mysterious Easter Sunday Service. But what is the Sunday Service? Music industry insiders might be familiar, but it’s likely most Coachella visitors, barring major [...]

  • Swedish DJ, remixer and record producer

    Avicii Remembered by Friends and Collaborators on the Anniversary of His Death

    With Saturday marking the first anniversary since Avicii’s death, friends and collaborators spoke with SiriusXM about their favorite memories with the prolific Swedish DJ. Avicii, whose birth name is Tim Bergling, died of an apparent suicide on April 20, 2018 at the age of 28. His family has established a mental-health and suicide-prevention foundation in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content