The Decaturian is Millikin's student-run newspaper. The opinions reflected may not be those of Millikin as an institution.

The Decaturian

The Decaturian is Millikin's student-run newspaper. The opinions reflected may not be those of Millikin as an institution.

The Decaturian

The Decaturian is Millikin's student-run newspaper. The opinions reflected may not be those of Millikin as an institution.

The Decaturian

2 Brand New Records to Spin

Image courtesy of Vampire Weekend.

Vampire Weekend – “Only God Was Above Us”

Beloved indie and baroque pop pioneers Vampire Weekend return with maybe their best record yet. “Only God Was Above Us” is a fruitful exploration in sound, scope and reflection.

I’ve had a soft spot for the band’s early work since high school, with their most recent album “Father of the Bride” coming out my sophomore year. I still think that album is pretty bloated, especially for Vampire Weekend standards, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t absolutely adore some of the tracks on that record. It still made me wish that the follow-up would gravitate more toward the trend of their first few albums though. A tight 10 track album without any room for fluff. Quality over quantity, all killer no filler, you get the picture. And with this new album, I think it’s safe to say that my wish was granted.

“Only God Was Above Us” is an immaculate return to form while also making room for new ideas and experimentation. Take the opening track “Ice Cream Piano” for example, on paper this reads as a typical Vampire Weekend song. Though among all the clever, self-affirming lyrics, minimal instrumentation and gorgeous harmonies, there’s an added layer of texture and suspense that just makes the song’s climactic finish that much more verbose and fulfilling. This feeling continues over the course of the album, making it all seem so fresh yet so familiar in the best way.

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While Vampire Weekend have always been open to experimentation, I don’t think they’ve ever nailed it quite like this. Adding in more elements of noise, psych and even shoegaze to their indie rock and art pop roots is anything but boring. So far, this record has reminded me a lot of Paramore’s latest, “This Is Why.” As the formula and basis of the band is still very much intact, they’re still able to change their sound and adapt with the times, taking more influence from post-punk and new wave, appealing to a wider demographic while also maintaining their hardcore fanbase. I think Vampire Weekend have pulled off the same stunt here and it’s just as good if not better.

Singles like “Classical” and “Capricorn” are more perfect examples of this new sound while also simultaneously sounding like throwbacks. Both tracks are super catchy in their own right while slowly but surely working in more layers of noise and low-end with every passing measure.

“Connect” makes for a great midway track. Starting off with a classic-sounding piano melody while gradually working in more effects on lead singer Ezra Koenig’s voice and the piano itself. By the end you’ll feel like you just got off a rollercoaster. “Prep-School Gangsters” might be the most old-school Vampire Weekend song here but that doesn’t mean it’s any less engaging.

“The Surfer” serves as a nice calm before the storm that is “Gen-X Cops,” maybe my favorite sequencing moment on the record. While the former sounds like the title suggests, very woozy and beach-like, the latter kicks you straight in the head with its brazen guitar arpeggios and booming production. I’d say it’s my favorite on the record, but then we get to “Mary Boone.” The third time this band names a song after a girl and it might be the best of the trilogy. Koenig’s voice sounds just the right amount of touched-up, sincere and gentle on this track, making everything else fall perfectly into place. The driving drumbeat, upright bass and angelic backing choir all deliver what could go down as my favorite song of the year. Just incredible.

The final two tracks are nothing short of stellar as well. “Pravda” is another throwback heavy song with a great lead-guitar melody and intriguing lyrical content. But the true beast of this album has to be the closing moment “Hope.” This nearly 8-minute-long masterpiece encapsulates everything I love about this band into one single track. The melancholic yet uplifting messaging, ever-evolving instrumental and every layer of noise crashing down at the end perfectly caps off what has been Vampire Weekend’s best showing in over a decade.

I have been in awe of this record since its release, and I don’t see that stopping anytime soon. I’ve had so many sentimental memories attached to this band over the years and I can’t wait to make more with this album in the months to come.

My rating: 9.7/10


Lizzy McAlpine – “Older”

Lizzy McAlpine takes a more mature and calming approach on her third full-length yet loses a bit of her edge in the process.

Image courtesy of Lizzy McAlpine.

Singer-songwriter sensation Lizzy McAlpine started turning heads about a couple years ago. Her last album “five seconds flat” garnered a lot of love from fans and critics alike and the track “ceilings” slowly became her biggest hit thanks to TikTok. Though, I’d say McAlpine’s biggest critique so far has been the similarities she has to her contemporaries, most notably Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus, among others.

I think a lot of the unique production decisions and key up-tempo moments on “five seconds flat” drove some of those comparisons away. But on “Older,” the more down-tempo, melancholic approach might have had the opposite effect.

To be fair, I think there are some stellar tracks and moments on this new LP. The title track, “I Guess” and especially the closer “Vortex” are all masterfully written and produced with great use of atmosphere, crescendos and emotive performances. Though there are other tracks, few and far between, that just sound like a Phoebe Bridgers demo to me. While I like a lot of the more somber moments and buildups on tracks like “Drunk, Running,” “Broken Glass” and even “Come Down Soon,” nothing has really lived up to her previous work on tracks like “erase me” or “doomsday.”

Still a solid album, just doesn’t do anything different enough for me to stick with it after a week or two.

My rating: 7.8/10

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About the Contributor
Eli Bland
Eli Bland, Arts Editor
Eli Bland is a Multimedia Communications major with a minor in English. Eli has had a passion for music and the arts since a young age and writing has always been his favorite way to express that. Being the Arts Editor at the Decaturian, his main focus has been on new album reviews, listicles and keeping up with Millikin's many art programs. He hopes to continue his journalism journey after graduation.

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