April Music – The difficulty of follow-up albums – Vampire Weekend, Midlake and Yeasayer.

Okay, so you’re last album had an amazing reception. You got acres of great reviews, legions of fans, even a new record deal. Now, all you’ve got to do is follow it up with something just as good, ideally better.

The first few weeks of this year saw the arrival of three new albums all trying to live up to the hype generated by their predecessors (some of my favourite recent albums) and all taking slightly different approaches to the challenge.

Contra -Vampire Weekend

Vampire Weekend chose the ‘if it ain’t broke just give it a polish’ route. Their ‘Upper West Side Soweto’ sound is once again to the fore, mixing African rhythms and melodies with an indie sensibility and literate lyrics. It’s another bright, breezy collection that though clearly showing development is very definitely from the same mould as their wonderful debut.

The Courage Of Others – Midlake

Midlake have chosen to follow the brilliant ‘Trials of Van Occupanther’ with something much darker, less immediate perhaps but well worth the effort for those willing to take the time. The emphasis here is on a folk rock sound that has clearly been inspired by the ’70s. By turns lilting and melodic, dense and brooding, it’s all skillfully crafted and beautifully realised. It does lack the variety of its predecessor and has nothing to match ‘Roscoe’ or ‘Head Home’ but if you’re in the mood to stick on the headphones and wander off into the woods, you’re in for a treat. Let’s hope that Midlake can remember the way back though.

Odd Blood – Yeasayer

Yeasayer seem to have made the biggest step forward. Whilst once again the emphasis is on beats and hooks, this time the inspiration seems to be more dance floor than campfire. The ‘world’ influences can still be heard but now they invoke the cultural melange of their home town New York rather than the desert plains of the East. It’s an exotic mix, not one that suggests travel and escape but rather the excitement of engaging with the here, the now and the future. I can’t wait to see where they go next.

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