Vampire Weekend’s “Father of the Bride”: The HUGE double album
Like every other die-hard Vampire Weekend fan, I’ve awaited this new album for 6 years. The last time I listened to new Vampire Weekend music, I was downloading “Modern Vampires of the City” on the bus ride home in eighth grade, sharing those uncomfortable old Apple ear buds with my best friend. My listening experiences this time were a little more comfortable. The album happened to come out the same day I left Indiana in my car to drive to Florida. So, I had a lot of time to listen to the album uninterrupted and really digest it. I know this sounds pretentious and trust me, it was a very pretentious affair. The hilly geography of Tennessee never looked so beautiful, until I had the windows down in my 2014 Ford Escape listening to Rich Man.
Listening to the album, it is apparent there are many influences and genres at play. Some songs sound like they belong on a folk album, such as Married in a Gold Rush, while other songs like Flower Moon (feat. Steve Lacy), have a modern sound and utilize auto-tune as a stylistic effect. However, besides these aural differences, I noticed thematic and lyrical differences as well. In a literal sense, FOTB is a double album. I myself ordered the vinyl and it came with two records, four sides, 18 tracks. However, is there a possibility that there are two concepts, two core themes driving the album and then combined together into one? In simpler terms, could this have potentially been two albums?
For the sake of clearness, I have divided the album into two halves. One half I have dubbed “Wedding Bells” and the other half I have dubbed “Grandfather Clock”. I picked the name “Wedding Bells” because it kept with the theme of marriage in the title “Father of the Bride” and because a lot of the songs are love songs. I chose the name “Grandfather Clock”, because it had the word ‘father’, as in “Father of the Bride” and this half contains songs dealing with mainly time, the passing of time, and age. Here are how I divided the songs below:
Hold you Now
Married in a Gold Rush
We Belong Together
Jerusalem, New York, Berlin
The half of the album that I’ve deemed “Wedding Bells” is comprised of the songs that are focused on themes of love and marriage. This includes a few of the love song duets that Danielle Haim collaborated on. These songs generally have a more acoustic feel to them or a more folk-inspired sound. Listening to these nine songs on their own, I feel it as a pretty cohesive complete album. The half of the album that I’ve deemed “Grandfather Clock” deal mainly with the passing of time, like I previously mentioned. These songs could also be a complete, unified album. In my opinion, if this album was split into two, “Wedding Bells” would’ve come out first, followed by “Grandfather Clock”. In an interview with GQ, Ezra stated that FOTB is where “those people”, from the songs of earlier albums (he specifically mentions Step and Oxford Comma) “are now”. Following this logic, I think that if we consider all of VW’s discography as one big story, they would’ve gotten married to the songs on “Wedding Bells” and then grown old to the tune of “Grandfather Clock”. Following that same line of thought, once these characters are old and the stories are over, there would be no more stories for VW to tell. In a sense, this could also be a finale album.
All this being said, I know it never would’ve been released this way. I know Ezra long ago came up with FOTB as the album title and has long since wanted to do a double album. He has said so many times in interviews. However, I think it is interesting to break up the album this way and I wanted to share this idea with the readers of wiux.org. I’ve seen artists divide their albums into themes before, such as The Front Bottoms on their self-titled album where they divided the two halves of the album into “Slow Dance to Soft Rock” and “Grip n Tie”. Lyrics and themes on an album are an important story telling device and I suspect there are multiple stories being told on FOTB. The people from Step, Oxford Comma, Campus, I Think Ur a Contra, etc., are all living out their respective futures and Vampire Weekend is telling us their stories throughout “Father of The Bride”.