It’s a minute into Vampire Weekend’s third album, and Ezra Koenig ices a minimal piano melody with what is probably the most sobering line in the saddest song of the band’s career. “Listen up, don’t wait,” he advises a protagonist grappling with fleeting youth. The message is a far cry from where Modern Vampires of the City ends up, with multi-instrumentalist Rostam Batmanglij, in his first turn as frontman, cooing a single repeated line: “You take your time, young lion.” The pendulum swing from point A to B is quite a ride. The character-specific sketches of the band’s earlier albums are widened across eras, cultures and locales to explore our struggle with time, religion, wealth and other Big Ideas, with Koenig finally settling on an unifier: not everyone gives a fuck about an Oxford comma, but every life is a race against the clock. Modern Vampires is ultimately a reminder to calm down; assurance that we don’t need to rush.
It’s exactly what we wanted—what we needed—to hear in 2013.