Review Summary: Music to listen to while eating caviar on a beach in Anguilla.
Indie music loves poverty. I’ll make a sweeping statement here, and say that if a new artist is someone ‘authentic’, someone ‘from the streets’, then it will be much easier for hipsters everywhere to etch that artists name into their hearts with permanent ink.
Now, a well known fact is that the members of indie pop outfit Vampire Weekend are not poor. The topics of most of the songs on this self titled debut are lush images of wealth, of privilege, and academic intelligence. Foreign (i.e European) accents run amok, names of cities are thrown around with wild abandon, and with a flourish of these-are-the-new-Beatles hype, ladies and gentlemen, Vampire Weekend.
Let’s get to the actual music, shall we not? This New York quartet makes warm, airy pop songs which shuffle along and breathe and waltz around in a very refined way. This is particular apparent in the guitar playing of lead vocalist Ezra Koenig, which is very clean and decently informed in African pop. His voice is exuberant and clear, and it works well in delivering the detail-heavy, but not really outstanding lyrics. The other members of the band work well too, and the hand-drum rhythm sections as well as the conventional drum rhythms are quite a joy to behold.
On a song by song basis, the first half of the album is by a considerable margin the better one. ‘Oxford Comma’ delights with its simple shuffling keyboard beat, and it’s a real achievement when the things not done in a song are almost as important as the instruments. This could easily have been overdone with too much stuff going on, but the song has a lot of room to breathe and this is a very satisfying thing.
‘Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa’ is another such song – probably the best one, grabbing your attention like so many indie bands fail to do, and forcing you to listen to its relatively sparse arrangement right until the keyboard riff denouement. ‘M79’ is my subjective favourite, though – it’s simply lovely in everything it tries to do, and the beginning reminds me of King Louis XIV. Because, you know, string sections.
After ‘Campus’ – which is good, but not great – Vampire Weekend are somewhat disappointing. None of the material past the halfway mark, save the ballad ‘I Stand Corrected’ which is actually a very good song, is worth mentioning really. It’s a real shame, too, because I was pretty sure I’d give this a 4 before ‘Bryn’ arrived.
Are Vampire Weekend the greatest thing since sliced bread? No.
Are they pretty cool though, like sliced bread is pretty cool? Yes.
Would Vampire Weekend actually buy ordinary sliced bread, or would they have the finest loaves imported from a bakery in Napoli and sliced by their butlers? (That is a rhetorical question)
fails to live up to its hype, but at its heart are a bunch of warm, pleasing songs, and that’s good enough for me.
Hell, at least we can enjoy something
which has “Vampire” in it, right?
So go, I know you would not stay/It wasn't true, but anyway/Racist dreams you should not have