Vampire Weekend recorded 2010's Contra in a "window-less studio in downtown Brooklyn," with "it being cold and rainy all the time," stressed to the max—and that album ruled! So you can imagine we're suitably psyched to hear the writing process for the foursome's still-untitled third LP was a fresh, revitalizing experience.
"It's distinct because it's instinctive," producer and multi-instrumentalist Rostam Batmanglij tells Spin of the new album, tentatively set to drop this spring. "And maybe that's why this was a hard record to make: we wanted it to be simple and bare, we wanted you to hear us coming through the speakers."
The material has been taking shape for three years, with Batmanglij and his comrades cobbling tunes together on the road and in their homes. One of the most major writing sessions between Batmanglij and guitarist/lead vocalist Ezra Koenig went down on Martha's Vineyard last spring.
"Neither of us had ever been there before so it was cool to drive to a new place and work continuously. There wasn’t exactly that same time pressure or that urge to show people our ideas really quickly, so we could focus very purely on songwriting," Koenig says. "And when you prioritize like that, you're going to be in a situation where you write things that are good, but not good enough. That can be a weird feeling because it's not always clear what you do in that moment. So we experimented."
Apparently the experimentation proved worthwhile; Spin heard and seemingly dug a chunk of the record, calling it "a family of songs that feels tough, less edited and decidedly from-the-gut." The recording went down in L.A. with Ariel Rechtshaid, who has produced work by Usher, Major Lazer, Alex Clare and the Plain White T's. Batmanglij enjoyed the change of scenery from Brooklyn, reveling in "being able to record in a room that's surrounded by trees" at Rechtshaid's Echo Park studio.
"On this album, there's a lot of organic sounds and a lot of performance," Batmanglij said. "You want the personality of each performer—whether it's singing or bass or drums or piano—to be intact. In some ways it's much more challenging to preserve that and to also make music that sounds modern. The way this album sounds is the product of thinking forward and being fearless in terms of mixing and production, going for something that hasn't been done before but using elements and techniques that have existed for years and years, pushing them as far as they can go."
Consider our attention fully, utterly gotten.