Wikimedia Commons/Moses Namkung

The first time I ever visited Cambridge was on a school trip in year 12. It was a three-hour coach trip from my northern school, and most of us couldn’t care less - but it was a free pass to a day off school, so who really cares where we were going?

As we started getting closer to the city, the roads got busier and the coach kept stopping and starting, 'Campus' by Vampire Weekend began pouring through my headphones. It felt very apt. Until then, I’d imagined 'Campus' as Ezra Koenig walking through a sun-saturated New York City park, everything tinged with that orange from the cover of their debut album. Now it was developing a new meaning: "How am I supposed to pretend I never want to see you again?" felt less like a love-letter to a girl, and more like a love-letter to a city.

I fell in love with Vampire Weekend in 2013, just as Modern Vampires of the City was being released and 'Unbelievers' would sometimes come on the radio. When Father of the Bride was announced, I cried. Granted, I was slightly emotional and more-than-slightly drunk - but it felt like a piece of my adolescence was coming back to life right before my eyes, and I just couldn’t contain it.

I feel like I can track my own personal growth through Vampire Weekend songs...these albums actually felt like personally-created soundtracks to my life

A lot happens - and a lot changes - in 6 years. In that gap between 2013 and 2019, between Modern Vampires and Father of the Bride, the whole world has changed. Now I’m 18 years old and Vampire Weekend is still on my playlist. Not just Father of the Bride - which felt a little marmitey at first, now having grown on me with each and every listen - but some of their older songs, too. 'Young Lion' is still in the playlist that helps me sleep. It has been for years.

There is a Vampire Weekend song for all of my moods: 'Hannah Hunt' reminds me to be contemplative even at my most energetic, and 'Giving Up the Gun' is more than enough to get me hyped. You should have seen the mixture of utter shock and extreme elation on my face that one time in Friday Fez when 'Walcott' came on (probably for the first and last time ever). Each album feels like a generation of Vampire Weekend, and when the releases were only 2 or 3 years apart, it felt like you could almost track the growth of the band members. I feel like I can track my own personal growth through Vampire Weekend songs - moments in my life when I preferred one album or the other, moments when these albums actually felt like personally-created soundtracks to my life and what was going on in it.

Father of the Bride feels like a second coming. It’s a divergence from the band’s older albums, the preppy rhythms and pseudo-existential lyrics about first loves and college life. It is the same darkly intelligent lyrics of Modern Vampires sprinkled over spring-time music - over the Contra rhythms that remind me of California and the colour blue.


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The band has adopted a new sound - but also a new depth of meaning. That famous melancholy lyric of 'Finger Back', “I don’t wanna live like this but I don’t wanna die,” adopts a new, more mature meaning when it is reappears in 'Harmony Hall' - as if that six-year chasm between 2013 and 2019 has solidified that gap between adolescence and adulthood. I’m still growing, still changing and ageing, and surely have much further to go before I can match Vampire Weekend’s new declaration of maturity.

But I also feel, at the same time, that listening to music like this - with lyrics that are witty and intelligent and not always about love - is an education, and almost a culmination of something. That original trilogy of albums soundtracked my teenage years, my journey out of childhood and into university. I’m sure that now - 18 and looking ahead to my future - Father of the Bride will begin to soundtrack my journey into adulthood, just as it echoes Vampire Weekend’s. Or, at the least, the profound, knowing lyrics will trick me into thinking I’m an adult, too.

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