In a recent interview, Ezra Koenig has said that while he worked on ‘Hannah Hunt’ for about 7 years, he finds that it could not have worked as a track on either of the first two albums. This, if anything, should be some indication of the tone and direction of the New York quartet’s third outing Modern Vampires of the City. The track itself is a mastery of minimalism by Vampire Weekend’s standards. It’s not as ornate with an abundance of influences, but perhaps takes the group’s sound into a place Weekend haven’t necessarily ventured into before. The more restrained bass, percussion, and piano leave room for an instrument that is sometimes too often overlooked: Koenig’s voice. His soft crooning ties all the subtle details of the track together. The lyrics are rich with details and imagery from talk of “crawling vines and weeping willows” to “freezing beaches” that also translate to the beautiful sonic textures that unfold as the track progresses.
The key line that Koenig repeats is one that goes “Though we live on the US dollar / you and me, we got our own sense of time.” It represents the essence of the track, which is ultimately about a relationship that once was. It perfectly captures that feeling you get when you’re with that one person, that significant other. Things feel right in a way that only the two of you understand, and it’s apart from everything and everyone else in the world. But as the song reaches the marvelous piano breakdown and as the vocals intensify, it becomes clear that sometimes things just don’t work out despite your best efforts. In this way, Vampire Weekend have indeed matured and grown up. Not only have they mastered a slower, more minimal arrangement with a wonderful build-up, but they’ve also seen and learned, loved and lost. These lessons come together beautifully and effortlessly in ‘Hannah Hunt,’ being indicative of where they’ve been, where they are, and how they’ve felt along the way.