‘Ya Hey’ marks the third taster of Vampire Weekend’s long-awaited third studio album: Modern Vampires of the City. The song turns out to be an unusual twist for the indie rockers previous quirky, guitar laden material, and although enticing, it remains a mystery whether this will be an entirely good move or not.
‘Ya Hey’ contains a steady, sonorous vibration throughout: the combined disturbances of echoed vocals, confident percussion and a rumbling synth undercurrent. Yet some raw acoustic elements still remain, despite a clear drift towards a harder, darker sound, a smattering of bright piano keys lightens up an otherwise distinctly mournful tone. Bordering on what could be considered a requiem, the lyrics lament the lonely situation of an outcast, Ezra insists that “America don’t love you/so I could never love you”. Considering that the music video is filled with Champagne bottles, the lyrics could be alluding to some kind of celebrity, now an unknown. The almost unnerving, whining notes interspaced during the chorus, could possibly be a distorted cry of ‘why?’, but at any rate they do add to an atmosphere of alienation and improve the overall rhythm. Moving into the second verse, you experience a progressive build-up, with pulsing backing vocals and a single high note wavering in the background. However, there is a brief spoken-word moment that appeared to be slightly jarring and rather unnecessary to me, for a band that excels in flowing musicality, they needn’t spoil it with pointless script reading.
But on the whole, ‘Ya Hey’ presents an interesting direction for Vampire Weekend. Achieving an emotionally touching backdrop to a highly rhythmic venture, this song is hopefully a prelude to some more memorable material.