Few standouts on 18-track Vampire Weekend album

Vampire Weekend - Father of the Bride

Vampire Weekend’s prep-school rock lit up the zeitgeist a decade ago.

But the world has moved on and, in altogether darker times, it isn’t immediately clear high-IQ indie pop performed in the style of hipster Paul Simon acolytes is quite what the masses are crying out for.

Not that this has seemingly detained the band’s leader Ezra Koenig (very much steering the ship with the departure of multi-instrumentalist Rostam Batmanglij).

Back from a six-year recording hiatus, the group’s fourth album feels like a conscious reiteration of their commitment to jangling guitars, smarty-pants lyrics and Wes Anderson-levels of twee.

The biggest change is scale.

This is an 18 track quasi-behemoth — a lot for casual fans to regurgitate and perhaps a disappointment to those long-termed devotees who had always admired the VW’s economy and talent for never wearing their welcome thin.

A few standouts twinkle, it is true.

Opener 'Hold You Now' is a lulling acoustic collaboration with Danielle Haim of LA sister-trio Haim.

And the record has a heart-wrenching closer in ‘Jerusalem, New York, Berlin’ — a big weepie powered by piano.

In between, alas, Father of the Bride can be a slog, with songs such as ‘How Long?’, ‘Rich Man’ and ‘My Mistake’ coagulating into a sludge of feather-weight indie.

One issue is the chipper figure Koenig presents throughout.

Though the lyrics sometimes run dark and deep, Koenig’s default is an upbeat croon, just this side of giddy.

If you’re not in the mood — and with 18 tracks there are moments you surely you won’t be — it can be a deal-breaker.

He does, it is undeniable, occasionally try to push the formula.

The funk-fusion of ‘Sunflower’ is as much a showcase for The Internet bassist Steve Lacy as for Koenig’s songwriting — and all the better for it.

And Danielle Haim once again proves herself one of the best things on the record as she returns for the folksy-stomper We Belong Together.

But 18 songs is at least half a dozen too many on an album crying out for a judicious pruning.

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