You know when you’re waiting for a bus and two come along at once? No? Ok, maybe you know when you’ve been waiting for 2 Vampire Weekend tracks and 4 come along within the space of a month? Now you’re with me.
After releasing ‘Sunflower’ and ‘Big Blue’ only last month, the band have treated us to two new tuneful treats neatly packed in amongst the other tracks in an EP format. The energetic and vibrant ‘This Life’ sits nicely alongside the softer, slower sounding ‘Unbearably White’, confirming that the album will offer a familiar balance of pacey and more leisurely songs.
As invigorating jaunty electric guitar pulses out, Ezra addresses his “baby”, mulling over how “pain is as natural as the rain / I just thought it didn’t rain in California”, perhaps an ode to the infamous Albert Hammond song or a weather preconception – who knows. As the more vibrant counterpart to the duo of singles, it puts a spring in your step as you walk down the street, so much so that you could mute Hall and Oates (how dare you) in that iconic ‘500 Days of Summer’ scene, swap it in and even Joseph Gordon Levitt wouldn’t have a clue.
The band have a skill for making slightly unnerving lyrics breeze by with barely a moral conflict to be seen. The hook “I’ve been cheating on cheating on you / you’ve been cheating on cheating on me”, infers the foundation of this relationship isn’t a happy one, and his “baby” isn’t necessarily going to be there to answer his musings. Nevertheless, the get-out-of-jail-free-card of “cheating through this life” is a subtle nod to the reality that indeed that’s all anyone is doing, putting one foot in front of the other and hoping for the best.
The slightly melancholic theme of a despondent relationship permeates through into ‘Unbearably White’. Opening with the heart stabber ‘‘Baby I love you / but that’s not enough”, it’s clear we’re not in for a love song of the conventional form. The spotify video of a tiny skiing figure lapping a blank white screen foreshadows not only the looping base melody but the snowy theme weaving throughout the track. Fishing back into the music room instrument box, the lads whip out a wooden agogo and a triangle to break up some intense instrumental build-ups used to magnify the snowy metaphors in play. The “avalanche coming” could be a number of things, either they’ve popped to Val-Thorens with snowriders or the snowslide is an emotional one, a culmination of the infidelity from ‘This Life’ resulting in the couple’s separation. Nevertheless, the layering of strings paired with sporadic percussion mimics the intense anticipation, perhaps pre break-up, when you know the worst is all there is to fear. However, the anticlimactic bongo-esque fallout alongside the familiar bass loop and Ezra repeating “Call it a day / Call it a night / Callously Cold / And just unbearably white” infers the anticipation is worse than the reality.
Whether it is the “snow on the mountain”, the “page in your notebook” that’s unbearably blank and vacant, it’s very easy to change that. Vampire Weekend themselves were apparently described as ‘unbearably white’ as a band, and they only went and made a song about it. A good song at that.
I fear the two tracks will be our last teasers before the album’s release, but I’d be happy to eat my words as the eve of Star Wars day still feels much too long away right now. However, US tour dates have been released and, if our national embarrassment status doesn’t escalate any further, I think Vampire Weekend should be gracing our troubled shores sometime this November.