Thursday, June 26, 2008

Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend

Vampire Weekend

Vampire Weekend
XL Records.

SCQ Rating: 73%

Let’s dissect the record right: first off, toss that afro-beat garbage out of your Vampire Weekend idiom pamphlet. Giving a song some exotic xylophone or wooden percussion that’s remotely tribal doesn’t warrant Paul Simon getting Femi Kuti comparisons. Neither does throwing around labels like post-punk validate post-punk as a recognizable genre. Here’s the focus: these four Columbia graduates have made an often brilliant and otherwise pleasant indie record, one that will keep critics swooning over their amalgamations and find new fans throughout these summer months.

A good album, yes, and nearly equivalent to The Strokes as far as economic, irreverent indie-rock goes… of course, instead of picturing ripped-jean hipsters in leather jackets, envision Vampire Weekend blaring from the windows of beach-side frat houses the week before orientation. That said, its accessibility deserves some additional respect given how they wear influences that most indie-musicians steer clear of. Few outfits could tie the Victorian chamber-pop of ‘M79’, reggae rhythm of ‘One (Blake’s Got a New Face)’ and the drunker-than-frosh delight of ‘A-Punk’ into an appetizing whole, but it’s a diverse batch that, like Tapes N Tapes had two years earlier, will likely be hard to replicate on future releases.

At just over half an hour, its few dull moments are easy to spot; the odd undercooked track that fails to provide a payoff (‘The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance’) adds to Vampire Weekend’s good-time vibes but stalls the ambition present in ‘Walcott’ or ‘Oxford Comma’. And that’s where I get conflicted… is Vampire Weekend one of those records that’s supposed to simply exist for easy enjoyment? Should we consume this laid-back accomplishment and ignore the nagging question of whether it could’ve been bigger, better? According to critics, that question is mute – next up, the Pitchfork Year-End list, 2008!

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