OGWAU Is Vampire Weekend Keeping Things Fresh

It’s been a long-awaited return for Vampire Weekend fans, and their fifth studio album, Only God Was Above Us (OGWAU) does not disappoint. Breaking away from their previous Afro-Americana and folk-inspired sounds, this album is a refreshing dive into a plethora of musical styles, returning to the band’s adventurous and experimental roots. In the band’s new behind-the-scenes podcast Vampire Campfire members Ezra Koenig, CT (Chris Tompson) and Baio (Chris Baio) speak about the album being influenced by everything from 20th century NYC to Russian icons, to the greatest nondefense construction project in the history of Western Civilizations. Building on this eclectic foundation, this album is the band’s attempt at “keeping things fresh” for themselves and their fans.

Vampire Weekend’s previous two albums picked up Grammys for Best Alternative Music Album of the year, and with this fifth release, they may be poised for a hat trick. The bulk of OGWAU was conceptualised in 2019-2020 by Koenig, but the band is done with rushing production and wants to give themselves time to rest between touring. The songs might not be radio-friendly compared with their early single “A-Punk”, but it is an enjoyable listen purely from a musical perspective – headphones are recommended.

From the outset, it’s clear that OGWAU is pushing boundaries – as the band tries to keep their sound ‘fresh’ not just for fans but for themselves.

Starting with the energetic and bold “Ice Cream Piano”, beginning with the lyrics ”Fuck the world, you said it quiet”, we are brought along a journey, pondering life, death and everything that happens to us in between through this album which culminates with the haunting 8-minute track “Hope” and the words “I hope you let it go”. Tracks such as “The Surfer” and “Connect” blend distorted synths with catchy basslines, creating a spacey and almost cinematic atmosphere. Meanwhile, “Prep-School Gangsters” showcases witty lyricism layered over an eclectic string arrangement, highlighting the band’s knack for clever wordplay.


OGWAU‘s introspective focus adds depth and meaning to each track, inviting listeners to reflect on their journey as it plays out. Musically, it crosses boundaries and creates an interesting audible escape. All the same, familiar riffs and moods referenced throughout will satisfy the perpetual desire for nostalgia and the classic Vampire Weekend sound.

Production-wise, OGWAU is top-notch. With credits split between frontman Ezra Koenig, long-time producer Ariel Rechsthaid, and former band member Rostam Batmanglij on a few tracks, the album maintains a cohesive yet adventurous atmosphere. Each song flows seamlessly into the next, creating an immersive listening experience following through on the band’s threat to offer a 10-track no-skip record.

The band’s fearlessness in exploring new sonic territories that truly captivates. Whether it’s the spooky and philosophic vibes of “Pravda” or the chaotic energy of “Capricorn,” Vampire Weekend proves they’re not afraid to take risks and push the boundaries of their sound.

For long-time fans of the band, OGWAU is a testament to Vampire Weekend’s evolution and growth as musicians. And for newcomers, it serves as a compelling introduction to the band’s unique blend of indie rock, pop, and experimental sounds. Haunting ballad, “Mary Boone”, shows off their ability to build a world in a song, doing this with soft piano, orchestral choirs paired with ’90s hip hop-inspired drums and NYC-coded lyrics referencing the real Mary, a 1980s American art dealer who wound up in jail for tax evasion.

Overall, Vampire Weekend’s fifth release Only God Was Above Us is a triumph. With its bold experimentation, thoughtful lyricism, and impeccable production, it’s a testament to the band’s enduring creativity, musical prowess and attention to detail.

The band’s upcoming tour to promote this album promises to be an unforgettable experience. Beginning with a live-streamed Austin concert set during the solar eclipse, the tour will come to Dublin’s 3Arena on November 29 2024. Fans can expect a showcase of the album’s new sound alongside fan favourites. Whether enjoyed through headphones or live, this album is sure to leave a lasting impression.