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Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

REVIEW: Vampire Weekend releases the perfect album for reflecting while moving forward

Photo courtesy of Columbia Records

Vampire Weekend’s fifth studio album has a melancholic feel to it, with tones of jazz and electronic beats that work entirely too well together. The deeper meaning of the album delves into the idea of finding new within the old. 

Only God Was Above Us” is full of references to past songs and albums by the band and long time listeners will be able to hear these call-backs, like in “Connect” which ties to previous “Mansard Roof.” 

The album tells the story of New York from an emotional distance. Listeners can visualize the city as a giant that is falling apart, haunted by the ghosts of people who have passed on. 

Despite it being a story of New York, I was able to connect some parts of it to myself and my own experiences. The album works to embrace the past in its entirety, but also emphasizes that you will never be able to fully wrap around it. 

The album comes in at 47 minutes, with 10 songs. I have two favorites, “Hope” and “Prep-School Gangsters.”

“Hope” is the album’s closer, and it is the longest song on the album. Its lyrics completely contrast the name of the song, giving it a wrathful energy. 

“The embassy’s abandoned now
The flag that flew is on the ground
The painting burned, the statue drowned
I hope you let it go” 

Despite the sinister lyrics, the singer’s voice is soft and melodic, giving the song a soft and simmering vibe, much like a campfire. It can seem warm and inviting from afar, but getting closer can cause burns. 

“Prep-School Gangsters”  alludes to the rampant favoritism that often surrounds prep and Ivy League schools. These schools often favor a certain type of person: White Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASPs) who come from money. The schools shun the kinds of people who fit the bill of the narrator: outsiders. 

The narrator claims that everyone has more similarities than believed and alludes to how arbitrary these labels are. 

“Call it business, call it war
Cutting class through revolvin’ doors
Yours was better, mine was worse
‘Til it took on the fifth-gen curse
Call me jealous, call me mad
Now I got the thing you had
Somewhere in your family tree
There was someone just like me” 

Another song from the album that I didn’t like at first, but grew on me was “Gen-X Cops.” 

This song tells the story from the perspective of the singer, a millennial, and discusses the woes and troubles that the previous generation left behind; however, I think this could apply to any generation. Especially because the singer never fully identifies what generation he is singing about, it is something for listeners to infer. 

“It wasn’t built for me
It’s your academy
But in my time, you taught me how to see
Each generation makes its own apology”

If you are a fan of heavy hitting lyrics, coupled with soft vocals and melodies and are searching for something new with a nostalgic feel, “Only God Was Above Us” is the perfect album for you.

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About the Contributor
Maleah Evans
Maleah Evans, Reporter
Maleah Evans is a second-year reporter for The Sunflower. They previously worked as a copy editor. Evans is a sophomore, majoring in history with a minor in anthropology. They plan to pursue a career as a museum curator.

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