The third album by the indie mainstays is the first to incorporate an outside producer, Ariel Rechtshaid, to assist member Rostam Batmanglij in their latest attempt to create something fresh and innovating. The album cover alone suggests that this is will be a dark album, and is a departure from the usually peppy and youthful sound. The end result is that with this record, Ezra Koenig and company, have created their most accomplished record to date.
The darker moments stand out, the upbeat moments are amongst their finest efforts, and everything about MVOTC seems more mature and thought out. Koenig’s lyrics and vocals are also at their best on numerous tracks, and still remain the focal point despite of the always excellent production. The songs do circulate heavily on the theme of religion and its various forms, and where we fit in in respect to the world.
The depressingly sombre but beautiful “Obvious Bicycle” opens, and immediately lectures for our generation to act now and for ourselves, and not to attempt to try impress the ones before and above us. The brilliant lyric, “Oh, you ought to spare your face the razor, because no one’s gonna spare the time for you” is emphasized to enforce this, as shaving is something one does regularly to satisfy those around us. Album highlight “Unbelievers” then enforces the theme of religion, and shows great lyrical development from Koenig. Heavily focused lyrics contain gems such as, “We know the fire awaits unbelievers… I’m not excited, but should I be? Is this the fate that half of the world has planned for me?”
The album’s best track lies in the gloriously understated “Step”, which in my opinion is the best written song so far this year. “Your girl was in Berkeley with her communist reader. Mine was entombed within boombox and walkman” which I’ve always interpreted as him saying his perfect girl lies within the confines of music, only something he could wish upon. It also contains my favourite lyric in the record, “Stale conversation deserves but a bread knife.” Completing the near flawless opening quartet of tracks is standout “Diane Young”, a play on the words ‘dying young’. The most playful song on the album, it is compulsively listenable and is produced and sung to the highest degree.
The desolate tale of “Hannah Hunt” follows a dying relationship, and contains the lyric, “As we made our way from Providence to Phoenix.” A clever double entendre detailing the relationship moving from one side to the other, and also from an all-knowing Godly sense to having to forge new relationships from the ashes of this one. Album highlight “Ya Hey” is the most obvious religious track, with ‘Ya Hey’ really voicing ‘Yahweh’ meaning God. Well structured and musically provocative, this shows a new found depth in their music.
Like their records prior, MVOTC was played repeatedly for days and never grew tiresome. The young band are making music with a level of sophistication and wit unparalleled among others, forcing everyone to take notice. They are the most innovative, likeable, and unique artist of late and this record lives up to expectation. On “Step” Koenig says, “Wisdom’s a gift, but you’d trade it for youth. Age is an honour, it’s still not the truth.” Two immaculately written lines showing just how far he himself has come as a writer, and showing his youth still allows him wisdom. “If I’m born again I know that the world will disagree”, Koenig proclaims on “Unbelievers”. All religious favouritisms and beliefs aside, if Koenig were to be able to live on until the next generation, the world would certainly not disagree. They will continue to hear one of the most riveting lyricists/singers of his time.
Verdict – 8.9
Top Tracks – “Unbelievers”, “Step”, “Diane Young”