Music Review: Vampire Weekend returns with vibrant album

Vampire Weekend, "Father of the Bride" (Columbia Records)

Vampire Weekend is back after six years with "Father of the Bride," a multi-layered album both musically and lyrically that washes over the listener like a ray of spring sunshine at the end of a long winter of no new music.

But listen closely to the lyrics there's a darker undercurrent amid the breezy harmonizing, hand claps and up-tempo jovial toe-tappers.

"I don't want to live like this," lead singer Ezra Koenig confesses on the first single "Harmony Hall," ''but I don't want to die."

On "This Life," Koenig chirpily sings about pain "as natural as the rain," crumbling dreams, cheating partners and "this life and all its suffering."

"Oh Christ, am I good for nothing?" he sings.

Um, wait. Why exactly are we dancing and smiling while listening to this?

A lot has happened since Vampire Weekend's last album, "Modern Vampires of the City," was released in 2013. Producer and multi-instrumentalist Rostam Batmanglij left the band, but he still gets credit as a co-producer on several songs. Other guests also make an appearance, including the Internet's Steve Lacy, Danielle Haim and Jenny Lewis.

Sure, there's some naval-gazing amid the eclectic musical styles ranging from indie pop to ska, flamenco to jazz presented over 18 songs that clock in just under a full hour.

But through the musical gumbo, excesses, juxtapositions and contradictions, it's hard not to get caught up in "FOTB." It's just good fun.

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