February 21, 2008
I Want To Suck Your Blood.
Some of you may be very well aware of Brooklyn, New York indie-rockers, Vampire Weekend, who released their self-titled debut last month. The band's supercharged single “A-Punk" has been getting a ton of play on MTV and YouTube. The song perhaps best exemplifies the group's breezy African-pop infused indie-rock. The two-minute ditty is filled with a march of jangly guitars, a whimsical flute melody, yelping vocals, and a ridiculously catchy bassline.
In similar way that Weezer made geekiness cool in 1995, Vampire Weekend revels in their preppiness. The four members of the band met while attending Columbia University. This academic background is extremely apparent the lyrics. In fact, you probably need a dictionary to understand half of what vocalist Ezra Koenig is singing about: “You spilled kefir on you keffiyeh” or “Charm your way across the Khyber Pass” among other things. Although, it should be mentioned that Vampire Weekend has managed to create quite possibly the coolest song ever written about commas (aptly-titled “Oxford Comma”).
While the hyper-literate wordplay may have English buffs foaming at the mouth, at moments it seems the band is going out of its way to prove their wits. However, it's nice to see they have a sense of humor about it: “Oh your collegiate grief has left you dowdy in sweatshirts/ Absolute horror,” sings Koenig on “One (Blake’s Got A New Face).” College students will probably find the lyrical images of academia as quite a nice touch (“Then I see you, you're walking cross the campus/Cruel professor/Studying romances/How am I supposed to pretend/I never want to see you again”).
Musically, the band stands out from their indie rock peers by delivering a refreshing blend of ska rhythms ("Mansard Roof"), classical music, and the aforementioned genre of Afro-pop. Strains of The Police's early-era sound can be heard throughout the album (particularly on “One” and “M79”). Keyboard melodies and sprite violin parts also add nice textures to the band's sonic landscape on “I Stand Corrected” and Walcott.”
While some music bloggers may see Vampire Weekend's release as somewhat akin to the Second Coming of Christ, this is most certainly not true. The album is undeniably enjoyable, but it is not the best 2008 has to offer. As far as one of the best singles of the year "A-Punk" is a strong contender. It is arguably one of the best tracks I've heard all year. However, I don't think this band, or this album is anything more than what it is –meaning it sounds like exactly what it is-- a couple of New England prepsters who listened to a few Afro-pop albums and started a band who managed to put out a decent debut.
Recommended Tracks: “A-Punk” and “Oxford Comma.”
For more info on Vampire Weekend visit www.myspace.com/vampireweekend or www.vampireweekend.com.