Average User Score: 8.3Dec 17, 2013This is the first 10 I've ever rated. It's technically a 9.5, but since we're rounding up, this album gets a perfect score for Metacritic.This is the first 10 I've ever rated. It's technically a 9.5, but since we're rounding up, this album gets a perfect score for Metacritic.
I had been replaying this album for a long time, but I always skipped a few tracks here and there. Now, having heard it in its entirety, I can honestly say that this album is an absolute masterpiece.
Seriously, after the letdown that was Demon Days, it's pretty surprising to see that Damon didn't try to fix it for his next record, instead coming up with something entirely different. Instead he's come up with a completely different approach that has alienated previous fans of the previous album, but not me. (Mostly because I'M not a fan of the previous album).… Expand
Average User Score: 8.8Dec 5, 2013Three albums in, Vampire Weekend still haven't lost their edge. While their last album had a concept about a breakup that sends Ezra's brainThree albums in, Vampire Weekend still haven't lost their edge. While their last album had a concept about a breakup that sends Ezra's brain on all sorts of crazy tangents, this one is a more controlled statement that mainly deals with Ezra's religious beliefs. It doesn't have any irrelevant mini-concepts like The Clash, or the Contra video game, or Nicaraguan revolutionaries, although it does have the random Vampire Weekend weirdness that always shows up in their lyrics. Like the music ones first Lil Jon, then Kanye West, and now Modest Mouse and DragonForce. What do these things all have in common? Everybody knows I'm a moster! (But seriously, the thing is that none of those artist references have anything to do with the rest of the song, not that they really have to).
Since the album has religious themes, sometimes also atheistic or agnostic, you'd expect church instrumentation a la Arcade Fire's "Neon Bible", and you would be right. But the difference is that none of the tracks are overloaded with organs, and surprisingly not baroque instruments either, like you would expect from Rostam Batmanglij. Instead, the preferred sound is that of choirs, in my opinion the perfect choice. Ezra and Rostam must be geniuses, this band has had some of the coolest evolution I've ever gotten to experience with my ears. They know how to evolve.
I observed that the album Vampire Weekend was rather quiet, and Contra was much more willing to raise its voice. Modern Vampires is a little bit in the middle of the road, as its concept is as well. Some of these tracks are bangers, some are chillers, and some are quiet and put you right on the edge of your seat. All of these varieties work. That really pleases me because the result is a record that, somehow, impossibly, I end up liking BETTER than Contra. Yeah, I can't believe I said it, but it's actually true. This is my favorite Vampire Weekend album to date.
I give this a 9 out of 10. This band's fourth LP has found itself at the very top of my list of most anticipated upcoming albums. But is probably won't arrive until 2016. Meaning I'll have something missing from my life until then.
STANDOUT TRACKS: OBVIOUS BICYCLE, UNBELIEVERS, DIANE YOUNG, HANNAH HUNT, EVERLASTING ARMS, WORSHIP YOU, YA HEY, HUDSON, YOUNG LION
(Yes, I realize only three tracks remain. That's how good this is. Almost every track on here can be considered one of my favorites.)… Expand
Average User Score: 8.1Nov 30, 2013What a bore. I can't think of anything, besides the shoegaze influence that The Edge brought in here, that can justify the claim that U2 madeWhat a bore. I can't think of anything, besides the shoegaze influence that The Edge brought in here, that can justify the claim that U2 made a huge comeback in quality with this. Even with the one strength this LP had, there was already a way better shoegaze album released in the same year, from the same country My Bloody Valentine's "Loveless".
I imagine that Rattle and Hum wasn't gold, but this can't possibly be that much better. Half the tracks on here are just a bore to me. There's little to no variation within the album, and only a few tracks I really enjoyed. It's all painfully slow, with The Edge and Adam Clayton spinning up a few cool concoctions only to have Bono bring them down with his surprisingly poor singing voice (he sounded awesome on The Joshua Tree!).
The tracks that I did like unfortunately did not contribute to my enjoyment of the album, the reason being that they sound so helplessly out of place. "One" doesn't have the guitar work or the compositions of the other tracks. I would enjoy some variation within this album especially considering how bland it is, but when this is pretty much the ONLY track that stands out, it seems like it belongs on a different record.
I'm sorry, I can't like this at all. I feel a strong 4 to a light 5 on this. Even their later efforts, like All That You Can't Leave Behind and How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, did a better job at making good music than this dead-as-a-rock excuse for a comeback album.
STANDOUT TRACKS: ONE, WHO'S GONNA RIDE YOUR WILD HORSES, FLY… Expand
Average User Score: 9.0Nov 27, 2013NOTE: A 10/10 refers to a nonexistent perfect album. I don't toss excellent ratings around.
Also, I'm not a hater, I went into this with anNOTE: A 10/10 refers to a nonexistent perfect album. I don't toss excellent ratings around.
Also, I'm not a hater, I went into this with an open mind, and think Gorillaz and Plastic Beach were excellent albums. Now, on to the review!
Despite all its good tracks, Demon Days is unfortunately quite an inconsistent album, not at all meeting my expectations. Essentially it's a concept album about sad things all the gloom, misery, and dystopia you can think of but it often gets repetitive, or sometimes it forms a cohesive narrative over two or three tracks only to abandon it completely at the next. For example, even though I did think the two-track finisher of "Don't Get Lost in Heaven" and "Demon Days" ended the album quite well, I don't know at all where the miners and the volcano came from. Earlier in the album, I thought it was going to be about the band gathering a rebellion to overthrow a dystopian government, if i'm interpreting the lyrics to "Feel Good Inc." correctly. Even if you think of it as the type of concept album which doesn't tell an actual story but simply describes the subject of being depressed, that isn't consistent either. I have no idea why they decided to keep "DARE" in here though it's decent as a single, it feels so out of place here. It might as well be the album's worst track if I score it based on how it fits in with the others.
The guests are pretty good, though. Anything with MF DOOM on there is good. Feel Good Inc., which features De La Soul, has a nice performance by them as well, even if the maniacal laughing is a bit overdone. Roots Manuva is a skilled rapper, but not lyricist. I didn't, however, like what Shaun Ryder and Dennis Hopper contributed to the latter half at all.
Sigh. Damon, you've made Parklife, 13, Think Tank, and the self-titled Gorillaz album, and you would go on to make your masterpiece with Plastic Beach. What happened with this? It's not by any means a bad album, but...
I think I'll score it a 6. There are many good ideas, but more often than not, they just don't mix. At least Gorillaz and Blur have other great albums to their names.
STANDOUT TRACKS:: KIDS WITH GUNS, FEEL GOOD INC., EVERY PLANET WE REACH IS DEAD, NOVEMBER HAS COME, DON'T GET LOST IN HEAVEN, DEMON DAYS… Expand
Average User Score: 8.7Nov 26, 2013NOTE: An 8 from me means I really liked it. I don't toss 10s around.
The last album I listened to was Vampire Weekend's sophomore release,NOTE: An 8 from me means I really liked it. I don't toss 10s around.
The last album I listened to was Vampire Weekend's sophomore release, Contra, an excellent album, but which was bursting with lyrical content about anything and everything, whether it was Nicaragua, The Clash, old video games, or the breakup it was actually supposed to be about. Frank Ocean has interesting lyrical content throughout this album as well, but it's much more concentrated on the theme. I can tell that this record overall was inspired by the homosexual relationship described in his "open letter", but he also goes into other relevant parts of his life and past, like being filthy rich and dealing with his unrequited first love. I've yet to understand whatever the hell is going on in "Pink Matter", though.
This is musically an inferior album to Contra, though. While I do love the beats on tracks like "Thinkin Bout You", "Super Rich Kids", and "Lost", it's just not up to par on songs like "Sierra Leone", "Pilot Jones", and "Monks". I guess you could call it a "meh" album in this regard, because it is. This could possibly be my album of the year 2012 if it were better this way.
But as a whole? Yeah, this album's pretty excellent. In spite of what I said earlier about its inconsistent production quality, that matters not too much because this is a lyric-based LP. And its good tracks can be extremely good, especially in the case of "Pyramids", very likely my favorite song of 2012 (although I'm well aware that I'm not the only one who thinks this, this is generally hailed as a modern classic). "Pyramids" is just one of those songs where you just have to take a step back and bask in its awesomeness. It's no epic, extended crescendo; it's not "Stairway to Heaven", it's not "Bohemian Rhapsody", it's not "Won't Get Fooled Again". It doesn't even follow the model of modern long songs like Green Day's "Jesus of Suburbia", LCD Soundsystem's "All My Friends", or Justin Timberlake's "What Goes Around... Comes Around". It's completely different thing altogether, an entity unto itself. I don't think there's any song I've heard before that I can compare it to, which earns it even more respect than I already give it.
It's also worth noting that Frank is an excellent singer, and his vocal ability is especially pronounced on songs like "Pyramids" and "Thinkin Bout You", actually my two favorite songs from the album. But like the former song, I can't think of anyone it reminds me of. When I hear the voice on a Frank Ocean song, I'll easily be able to recognize it as his.
STANDOUT TRACKS: THINKIN BOUT YOU, SWEET LIFE, SUPER RICH KIDS, PYRAMIDS, LOST, WHITE, BAD RELIGION, FORREST GUMP… Expand
Average User Score: 8.5Nov 25, 2013Vampire Weekend gets serious praise for setting themselves apart from every other contemporary band, using an assortment of instrumentsVampire Weekend gets serious praise for setting themselves apart from every other contemporary band, using an assortment of instruments ranging from baroque sounds to electronica. Nearly every beat on the album works, and the music isn't quite so eager to raise its voice as, say Arctic Monkeys or Muse. You can be quiet and interesting at the same time.
That said, there's quite a bit of filler going on here. Come on, Vampire Weekend. If you can use your abilities to make some of the tracks on here really interesting, you should be able to make ALL of them interesting. I can't help but think how much better this could be than it already is. Perhaps this needs some time to grow on me, but I've scrutinized the music here for more than half an hour, and left underwhelmed. On top of that, it gets especially annoying whenever Ezra sprinkles his falsetto all over a song, the prime offender being "One (Blake's Got a New Face)", an otherwise really good track.
But this really isn't all bad. I would definitely revisit some of these tracks a little more in the future, especially "Walcott". There are a bunch of good songs to hear, but few GREAT ones.
I give this a 7 out of 10. Pretty good, but my bar was higher.
STANDOUT TRACKS: MANSARD ROOF, OXFORD COMMA, CAMPUS, I STAND CORRECTED, WALCOTT… Expand
Average User Score: 6.7Nov 25, 2013This is one of the most unique albums I've heard in recent memory. Maybe even of all time. How an album this adventurous reaches #1 onThis is one of the most unique albums I've heard in recent memory. Maybe even of all time. How an album this adventurous reaches #1 on Billboard is a mystery.
Apparently Contra refers to four things. On the surface, this record's about a breakup. On top of that, he's added stuff about an 80s videogame called "Contra", Nicaraguan politics, and an album by the Clash called Sandinista! that he quotes and references several times throughout. What the I don't give a about Nicaragua, old videogames, or the unsatisfying follow-up to London Calling. Why would you load your album with all that?
But that hardly matters. What I get from this is some guy who's been into all of these things recently and needed to put them all under one umbrella, using the word Contra to bring them together. I can't blame him for that; he's just writing about what he knows. In fact, his mind jumping around random subjects makes the central part of this the breakup aspect a lot stronger. It seems counterintuitive considering the other stuff would DETRACT from that, but to me it doesn't. The last track, the only one without all the Clash/Nicaragua/videogame bull****, is incredibly satisfying whereas in any other setting it would be a blowoff of a breakup song.
Now this is definitely a departure from Vampire Weekend's self-titled debut, but that's a good thing. I liked a lot from that, but it's not too revisitable. Fortunately, improvements have been made in the right places. The falsetto has been laid off except on the last track, where it fits. There is little to no filler on here. The incomprehensible lyrics are still incomprehensible, but actually do flow with one another.
You're a pretentious band, but that's what you do. You've done absolutely everything to improve on your last record.
I give this an eight out of ten, almost a nine, but not quite one. I hoped it would be higher considering all the great stuff I've been hearing. But it's good enough, and a must-listen for anyone.
STANDOUT TRACKS: HORCHATA, HOLIDAY, CALIFORNIA ENGLISH, TAXI CAB, COUSINS, GIVING UP THE GUN, I THINK UR A CONTRA… Expand