Vampire Weekend: Vampire Weekend
Ever since the release of their eponymous album roughly a year ago, Vampire Weekend have been ubiquitously regarded as the darlings of indie pop by critics and fans alike. Their unique blend of sunny African pop and elegant baroque classical music works surprisingly well, despite the oddness of the combination. Hailing from the upper class society of New England, the band makes clean and seemingly effortless pop gems.
Lead singer Ezra Koenig, in his younger years, saw the vampire flick The Lost Boys and was inspired to make a “New England” version of the movie. The product of that ambition, a weekend’s worth of video footage, was soon forgotten about by Koenig. However, it resurfaced at roughly the same time that the band was getting together. This episode, besides lending the band its name, is acknowledged in the upbeat “Walcott”, in which the namesake character Walcott is implored to “get outta Cape Cod”, presumably to avoid vampires; however, it is a testament to the band’s honest cheerfulness that the song comes off as more of an appeal to go holidaying than to flee from any ruthless bloodsuckers!
Another guaranteed fan favourite is the gently chiding “Oxford Comma”, in which Koenig and the boys snub their collective noses on inanities such as silly grammatical rules (Oxford commas) and bragging about your personal monetary fortunes, among other things. The frantic, buoyant “A-Punk” opens with what sounds like a faster, higher pitched version of perhaps a punk riff, and includes such entertaining details as silver rings, lilywhite hands and turquoise harmonicas. “One” contains a curiously-worded chorus that refuses to evacuate the listener’s brain for days, while “Bryn” conveys a danceable and decidedly Irish feel. “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa”, a quintessentially pop ditty, opens with an irrestible hook, and drives on with an undercurrent of the cheery African drums and label-name references; it is a perfect amalgamation of two of the main influences on the band: their affluent upbringing and a sincere love for Madagascan Pop.
The sound of the band is characterised by flawless production and equally spot-on vocals and instrumentation: a sort of squeaky-clean, disarmingly happy version of the Strokes’ sound on their epochal debut ‘Is This It?’. Singling out even one weak track on the album would be nearly unfeasible. Many jaded indie ‘fans’ criticise the band for their WASP-y background (“Rich white boys can’t make good music!”) and rather light lyrics, but the lads of Vampire Weekend doubtlessly don’t care. Their luminous, delightful album is what music was meant to be like: endlessly re-playable, endearingly pleasant, and most importantly, just plain good fun. Highly recommended.