Last year a couple of friends told me they were going to see Vampire Weekend. When I asked what sort of music it was, they told me it was “indie/Afro/ska” and I thought they were just being smart-asses (as that is their nature). Turns out they were being serious and the combination works to a surprisingly wonderful effect on the band’s self-titled debut LP.
Overall, Vampire Weekend’s songs have a feel similar to world-music influenced acts of the 80s. “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” takes on the famous Congo beat and several of the tracks have an island feel about them.
Lead track “Mansard Roof” is swirling and bursting with energy, but manages to stay smooth despite the boppy, syncopated drums. The pretty “I Stand Corrected” bubbles under the surface, never bursting forth but leaving the listener satisfied all the same. Strings and/or harpsichord define the sound of tracks like “The Kids Don’t Stand A Chance”, “Walcott”, and “M79”, but sound fresh even though such instruments have been in use for hundreds of years.
Current single “A-Punk” has a punchy bass line and brings to mind The Clash, which is somewhat ironic considering the differences between the bands’ backgrounds and lyrical content. Vampire Weekend’s lyrics tend to focus on such subjects as Louis Vitton, Benneton, wearing sweaters, and being oh-so-over the Cape. It’s hard to tell if the gentlemen that comprise Vampire Weekend are giving a humored wink-and-nod to their upbringing or are full-out embracing it. With lines like “your collegiate grief has left you dowdy in sweatshirts/absolute horror” one wants to lean toward the former, but the band’s sound and image conjure the definition of 80s wealth and privilege. Regardless, the album is a fun romp and gives a nice touch of sunshine to these gray winter days.
Vampire Weekend drops 1/29/08.
For more, check out their website.