This NY four-piece draw on their diverse backgrounds and interests, experimenting with African guitar music, the Western classical canon, hazy memories of Cape Cod summers, winters in upper Manhattan, and reggaeton. “Equal parts shruggy New York indie strumming and groovy Afro-pop, Vampire Weekend’s organ-and-drum runs highlight narratives about relationships, punctuation, and sometimes both” – Spin. Named “Hot New Kids” in Rolling Stone’s “Hot” issue.
In the face of the current hype juggernaut of our society’s media culture, most bands wilt under pressure. For every critical darling, there are ten others who crumble without the weight of trying to make a hit record that lives up to their buzz. With the advent of music blogging spanning the globe, a band has mere moments to prove themselves worthy before critics analytically squeeze the life out of them. Needless to say, that with the over saturation of Internet born rock stars, the buzz hardly provides us with capable musicians.
But once in a while a band sneaks past the backlog line up of future stars and wanna-be’s and creates a production that is, in simple necessity, actually good. One of these bands is Vampire Weekend, a New York based quartet. Formed while in attendance of Columbia University, Vampire Weekend became a fixture on the Blog circuit with their simple “afro pop”. With influences ranging from Ladysmith Black Mambazo and The Band to Paul Simon and The Talking Heads, they succeed in making incredibly catchy pop music that defies the listener to tap their feet or drum their steering wheel.
Beginning with the first track “Mansard Roof”, Front man Ezra Koenig sets the tone of the album with his laid-back voice and witty vocals while Rostam Batmanglij proves that even a keyboardist knows how to rock. With “Oxford Comma”, Vampire Weekend truly shows off their talant. With a keyboard-set jaunty beat, koenig sings a beautifully simple song showcasing his talant as a song writer. With lines like, “I climbed to Dharamsala too, I did/I met the highest lama/His accent sounded fine/To me, to me” , Koenig and Co. successfully pull off making actual intelligent pop music, something that has been lacking from the music scene these days. Both Vampire Weekend’s singles “A-Punk” and “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” combine West African guitars and drums with wordy lyrics to create undeniably fun music. With references to unmade vampire movies coupled with Buddhist principles, they truly know how to have a good time.
In their self-titled debut, Vampire Weekend truly combats the double-edged hype sword and produces some of the most startlingly original music in the last few years. Whether or not they continue to be critically beloved, Vampire Weekend have created one of the best albums this year. For now, at least, they can rest assured that their place in the “future stars” line is near the front.
Review by Pat Moran