Given the group’s Ivy League pedigree, one might expect long-winded dissertations concerning who knows what, exactly, out of recent XL Recordings signees, Vampire Weekend. Instead, the band’s debut full length plays like precious post card pop; one side beaming in picture perfect musical snap shots of Cape Cod, Khyber Pass, New York City, Old San Juan, and South Africa; the other sketched in Ezra Koenig’s semi-legible, lyrical scribbles. High society escapades, beach house grope and grabs, carefree campus time, and pointless punctuation (“Who gives a fuck about an oxford comma?”)…Sifting through such collegiate concerns might draw a few sourpuss sighs and “oh to be young” eye rolls from a slightly older crowd. But everyone deserves their youth…especially when it sounds this good.
Opener “Mansard Roof” sets the pep, bopping about to skittish snare drum rhythms and cute as fuck casio tones. It’s straightforward and simple…an uncomplicated formula the current crowd of indie elite seem to be moving away from. But therein lies the appeal of these prep pop darlings. Over the course of giddy little ditties like “Oxford Comma”, “A-Punk”, and “Campus”, Vampire Weekend embrace a clever and clear cut approach, and when cultural undertones do manage to creep in under the fold, it’s never for the sake of showmanship. On both the Graceland inspired “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa”, and call and response shimmy “One (Blake’s Got A New Face)”, the band pairs funky, understated bass lines with syncopated drum circles for a well-rehearsed, afro pop leaning. Then there are the tell tale signs of NPR upbringings. On “M79” and “Walcott” dainty, polyrhythmic puzzle pieces get slice and diced by energetic cuts from a pocket symphony.
In the end, Vampire Weekend’s debut is worth the hype. Sure, they may come off a bit sloppy, even slightly cocky, on record. But the whip smart ideas at work here make a definite mark on the memory. Prepare to pepper this bit of magic into your rotation for quite a long time to come. – David Pitz