Vampire Weekend announced a new single for the first time in six years Jan. 24. Formed back in 2006, Vampire Weekend is an indie rock band that started to take off in 2008.
For many fans of indie music, 2008-2012 was a golden age. Unofficially dubbed the era of radio-friendly indie pop, the four-year period played host to the prime time of several indie bands.
From Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros’ song “Home,” also known as the pinnacle of middle-class, white-people music, to “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster the People, countless people found their way into the genre through the upbeat, simplistic and comforting melodies of the period.
As time began to move past 2012, so did the fans, opting for new bands while leaving the hit bands of the era behind. Just as Foster the People, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, and other sensations such as MGMT began to fade, Vampire Weekend too was left behind the main beat.
Aside from the occasional playing of “A-Punk” or “Oxford Comma,” their songs were slowly phased out for modern discography until they stopped releasing music altogether.
With the newest release from Vampire Weekend, life was restored to indie music fans just in time for the weekend once again.
Their new single “Harmony Hall / 2021” consists of the two fresh songs, “Harmony Hall” and “2021.” Coming seemingly out of nowhere, the single’s release has left the indie community shocked, excited and reminiscent.
The first of the two songs in the release is “Harmony Hall.”
Being the focus of the single, the song clocks in around five minutes long, placing it on the lengthier side when looking through their discography. With “Ya Hey” being the only other song around five minutes long, and “Diplomat's Son” being the longest song at six minutes, initially it would appear as if the band changed up their classic tried-and-true formula.
Once the song begins, it quickly becomes clear that’s not the case.
Starting with gentle acoustics, the notes fall into a familiar, comfortable key. The listener is immediately transported back to 2008 as the melody gently massages their eardrums in a nostalgia-inducing pattern.
Soft vocals soon join the wave of sound before a transition to a buildup happens, introducing the staple keyboard and percussion present in the majority of Vampire Weekend songs.
The chorus then hits impactfully, signaling not only the focal point of the song but the sudden return of the band after their six-year silence.
From there, the second verse plays before the chorus is then repeated several times with an instrumental bridge thrown into the mix. While satisfying and impressive after the first listen, once the listener really sinks their teeth into the song with several more listens, it becomes painfully clear the song is good. Nothing more, nothing less.
“Harmony Hall” follows the classic Vampire Weekend formula exceedingly well. The result is a tune that quickly falls into place in their discography while simultaneously being good enough to remind listeners the band still exists.
However, that’s all it does. Accomplishing nothing revolutionary nor introducing anything new to the formula, the song leaves listeners wanting to peruse through the band’s older songs while also beginning to already forget about the freshly released song.
Alongside “Harmony Hall” is the other song “2021.” Nearly two minutes long, “2021” falls into the average time length when considering Vampire Weekend’s other songs. Despite this, contrary to the normal upbeat atmosphere present in their other songs, “2021” creates a faded, reflective vibe.
In the song, the band’s lead singer constructs lyrics around the topic of being remembered. Specifically, the lyrics question if in, “2021 will you think about us?” Supported by a simplistic melody and rhythm, the song feels like the band is reaching out with a cry to be remembered, missing the days of their prime.
Taking a slight departure from the traditional Vampire Weekend formula, the song manages well. Despite this, the song feels like the band’s second priority, disappointingly, when compared to “Harmony Hall.”
Ironically, the song doesn’t do enough with its departure from the typical formula to be remembered in the long term. In 2021, anyone looking back at Vampire Weekend will hardly notice “2021” in the shadow of their other songs such as “A-Punk.”
The single “Harmony Hall / 2021” boasts two astoundingly average songs that blend well with the rest of the Vampire Weekend discography, but just like the rest of the band’s works, unless the band does something revolutionary, the songs will inevitably be forgotten before 2021, if not the end of the year.