As part of our newly updated survey of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, we’re publishing a series of pieces on the making and impact of key records from the list. Vampire Weekend’s Modern Vampires of the City came in at number 328.
Vampire Weekend hadn’t even finished work on their second album, Contra, when, in June of 2009, multi-instrumentalist and producer Rostam Batmanglij began writing music for Modern Vampires of the City, the group’s career-defining third LP. The genesis was an early version of what would end up becoming album opener “Obvious Bicycle.” “It started with a very hectic drum beat,” said Batmanglij, who eventually added basic piano chords inspired by John Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band to the raw demo.
The band would spend the next three years working on Modern Vampires in fits and starts at Batmanglij’s Brooklyn apartment and, eventually, on a songwriting retreat