Vampire Weekends Father of the Bride feels like a last gasp, but sounds like a contented sigh The Not to damn this band to the ninth circle of faint praise, but Vampire Weekend has always been the epitome of neato. When the New York quartet first colonized the greater indie blog realm back in 2007, they werent posing as the brave saviors of rock and roll. They were just being their charismatic, affable, clever, Columbia educated, Graceland loving, boat shoe wearing selves. They were being honest. And the songs? They were light, bright, smart and as tidy as they come. It was as if these little tyros were trying to ramp up our skepticism so their melodies could melt it all away. Max neato. Unfortunately, the bands cheerily apocalyptic fourth album, , comes after a six year absence and one man down — Rostam Batmanglij, the guitarist and producer who originally figured out how to overload a Vampire Weekend song with sonic details that somehow made everything feel airy. Without Batmanglij at the controls, frontman Ezra Koenigs songs now seem to only sprawl and sink. Or maybe we should chalk that up to the fact that Vampire Weekend has since relocated from New York where you hustle down sidewalks with pep in your step to Los Angeles where you slog through traffic in the golden sunshine . Either way, Father of the Bride sounds like a tight band trying to get loose — or really, a prim band acting messy. Koenigs approach hasnt changed all that much, just his execution. So much of Vampire Weekends breakout music owed big debts to Paul Simons , and 12 years later, Koenig has seemingly returned to the same wellspring of inspiration: the cassette collection stowed away in the glove compartment of his parents Saab. Listen to how the saggy groove of Stranger runs parallel to that Jimmy Buffett song about volcanoes. Or how the jangle clap of Sympathy pantomimes the Gipsy Kings. And while theres a strange filial piety to be felt in these gestures, there isnt a lot else. In other songs, Koenig funnels his accurately doomy worldview through cute melodies, singing about this life and all its suffering and how hate is always waiting at the gate. At one point he asks, Whats the point of human beings? On the albums lead single, Harmony Hall, Koenig presents his desperation — I dont wanna live like this, but I dont wanna die — with some tambourine shimmy and a wink. Is this song supposed to sound like a Target ad? As long as we live in a capitalist system, Warholian lulz will never go out of style — but when the entire world already sounds like a commercial, there isnt much reason to listen to this album more than once. If you believe in rock and roll as a game of eternal returns, Father of the Bride might feel like an attempt to replicate Fleetwood Macs 1987 opus, . Both albums capture a pop minded rock group floating beyond an era of music it helped define, simultaneously exuding hyper presence and obsolescence, a last gasp that sounds more like a contented sigh. Or if you dont buy into the idea of rock reincarnation, you can also think of this music in terms of a stone being kerplunked into a pond. To listen to Vampire Weekend in 2019 is to behold the softest ripple of the great American rock and roll splash as it moves outward toward nothing — the Target logo vanishing into liquid stillness.