Vampire Weekend's New Record: "Higher, Lower, Faster!"

vampie-weekend-matt-jones.jpg
Vampire Weekend / Photo by Matt Jones
WRITTEN BY
Melissa Goldstein

When last we heard from Vampire Weekend, they were recording their second album in Brooklyn and promising "new sounds" from a "different bag of tricks."

And now the boys have surfaced again to give more details on their much-anticipated follow up to 2008's self-titled debut -- which, they say, pushes the band's musical boundaries to the limit!

VW illustrated the range of their new record to MTV via two songs that are at opposite ends of their sonic spectrum: uptempo ditty "White Sky" and a "dubby" groove called "Taxi Cab."

"White Sky" has been performed in various incarnations at gigs for over a year now, and the tune made its TV debut in March when the band made an appearance Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. Watch video of the performance here.

"That song came together in a way that none of our older songs ever have," frontman Ezra Koenig revealed. "[Keyboardist/producer] Rostam [Batmanglij] made a beat and sent it to us, and I spent some time writing lyrics and a melody to it, and then we put it together into what it is now. On that level, it is very distinct from what we've done."

It may be "distinct," but "White Sky" is bound to please longtime VW fans -- it sounds much like the tunes that made them famous -- and, as such, much like the tunes that made Paul Simon's Graceland legendary.

According to Batmanglij, "Taxi Cab" is heavily influenced by the Velvet Underground, as well as the band's desire to step away from the first album's "party-time" vibe: "With 'Taxi Cab,' I think it was important that we made a song that was mellow, because if you listen to our first album, there's a certain level of pumped-up-ness," he said. "I guess at some point this spring, I got obsessed with Lou Reed's 'Walk on the Wild Side,' and I just wanted to hear that over and over again. And so hopefully 'Taxi Cab' will connect with that, somehow, in some way."

And what about the album as a whole? The guys had more to say about the extreme nature of their new sounds: "One thing that's interesting about this album is that, to me, I think it has a wider range of feelings and tempos than the first album," Koenig said. "There are faster songs than what you've heard -- or what at least feels like our fastest song we've ever made -- and also [the] slowest [song] we've ever made. There are songs where I'm singing very high, and I think also the lowest I've ever sang on a VW album."

No word yet on a release date, but the guys say they're serious about getting the final product out in a timely fashion: "We're on a deadline here," Koenig said. "We're a hardworking band. We don't take vacations."

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