11 Songs, 34 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Few debut albums arrive as fully realized as Vampire Weekend’s. The band formed on the campus of Columbia University and burst onto the late-2000s indie-rock scene looking provocatively preppy, singing songs that skewered privilege and colonialism using exactly the sort of worldly references and upper-crusty anecdotes that come with an Ivy League degree. That delicious contradiction also ran through Vampire Weekend’s sound—a fizzy mix of baroque flourish and African pop they winkingly dubbed Upper West Side Soweto. To some, the album felt like a bracingly exuberant sequel to Paul Simon’s Graceland, but others heard the aural embodiment of a Wes Anderson film: both twee and bold, incredibly specific and broadly charming, with everything in its right place. But as much as it reads like a collegiate concept LP, Vampire Weekend remains funny, affecting, bright, and—above all—catchy.

Take the opening pair of songs, one named after a fancy architectural feature and the other after a piece of punctuation. And yet, “Mansard Roof,” with its swirling strings, clashing cymbals, and tumbling guitars, is the perfect vehicle for Ezra Koenig’s honeyed melodies. And “Oxford Comma” is just fun—a rich-kid roast that bops along to one of Rostam Batmanglij’s many antique keyboards and includes an earnest shout-out to Lil Jon’s “Get Low.” The Atlanta MC sent the band a case of his crunk juice as thanks, but similar favors were presumably not returned by the Dalai Lama or other name-checked folks, like Koenig’s professorial “Campus” crush or the blue-blooded girl who loves blue-collar rhythms on “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa.”

No matter: The album’s colorful pop smarts lifted the group from the blogosphere to the mainstream and helped make indie simultaneously more sophisticated and honest-to-god fun.

Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Few debut albums arrive as fully realized as Vampire Weekend’s. The band formed on the campus of Columbia University and burst onto the late-2000s indie-rock scene looking provocatively preppy, singing songs that skewered privilege and colonialism using exactly the sort of worldly references and upper-crusty anecdotes that come with an Ivy League degree. That delicious contradiction also ran through Vampire Weekend’s sound—a fizzy mix of baroque flourish and African pop they winkingly dubbed Upper West Side Soweto. To some, the album felt like a bracingly exuberant sequel to Paul Simon’s Graceland, but others heard the aural embodiment of a Wes Anderson film: both twee and bold, incredibly specific and broadly charming, with everything in its right place. But as much as it reads like a collegiate concept LP, Vampire Weekend remains funny, affecting, bright, and—above all—catchy.

Take the opening pair of songs, one named after a fancy architectural feature and the other after a piece of punctuation. And yet, “Mansard Roof,” with its swirling strings, clashing cymbals, and tumbling guitars, is the perfect vehicle for Ezra Koenig’s honeyed melodies. And “Oxford Comma” is just fun—a rich-kid roast that bops along to one of Rostam Batmanglij’s many antique keyboards and includes an earnest shout-out to Lil Jon’s “Get Low.” The Atlanta MC sent the band a case of his crunk juice as thanks, but similar favors were presumably not returned by the Dalai Lama or other name-checked folks, like Koenig’s professorial “Campus” crush or the blue-blooded girl who loves blue-collar rhythms on “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa.”

No matter: The album’s colorful pop smarts lifted the group from the blogosphere to the mainstream and helped make indie simultaneously more sophisticated and honest-to-god fun.

Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics.
TITLE TIME

Ratings and Reviews

4.6 out of 5
3K Ratings

3K Ratings

gobosox5 ,

The best so far of 2008

GRADE: A- (90.45%)
Nowadays bands looking to break into the ever so popular scene of indie music, get a large boost from the many indie music blogs out on the mainstream. Vampire Weekend was one of those bands that used their strong indie fanbase from the blogs, to propel their career into a very successful, and strong, debut album. Vampire Weekend first got together in 2006 and within months they had gotten attention from some lesser known African music blogs, but achieved their first step towards success by being proclaimed a "Band to Watch" by possibly the most famous of the indie blog, Stereogum. This promotion led to an anxious 8 months from indie fans, who were for the most part not disappointed with what the New Yorkers from Columbia University put out. Vampire Weekend creates a sound that has never been truly heard before, by combining popular African music beats with the more well-known indie pop sound, in a genre they call "Upper West Side Soweto". Think of their sound as The Shins mixed with The Strokes and Bob Marley, with classical African beats added in. The band, led by lead singer Ezra Koenig, creates a unique sound that really adds to their appeal.
TRACK BY TRACK:
1. "Mansard Roof" (9.0/10)- The album's first single has a very laid back feel to it, giving the listener a strong taste of what to hear later in the album. Strong vocals and a cool keyboard part in the middle make this so strong.
2. "Oxford Comma" (9.5/10)- I guess, as the lyrics suggest, Koenig didn't enjoy grammar class at Columbia, as he states, but this song is another great one with simple, but catchy guitar and keyboard riffs, and a great reference to Lil' Jon.
3. "A-Punk" (8.0/10)- Evident by the title, "A-Punk" is the most punk rock song on the album, but still returns to their Vampire Weekend roots. This has been released as the 2nd single.
4. "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" (10/10)- As of right now, this is the best song of the year by a long shot. Absolutely perfect in every way!
5. "M79" (8.6/10)- This actually broadens their genre repetoire be adding some Irish Folk into the mix. Very catchy vocals, and an incredible bass riff.
6. "Campus" (8.2/10)- This song has gotten a tone of praise everywhere else I've read, but I actually think it's one of the weakest on the album. Still a very good song, but Ezra's vocals do not seem to shine as much in this one.
7. "Bryn" (8.8/10)- Solid, short love song. Not bad, but definately not as catchy or dynamic as some of the other tracks, especially since it is barely more than 2:00.
8. "One (Blake's Got a New Face" (9.2/10)- Very, very good, catchy song, but consider yourself warned. The chorus definately may get annoying after a while.
9. "I Stand Corrected" (9.0/10)- Sort of a different, more mainstream sound from them. Almost sounds like britpop at times. Very cute, simple song though.
10. "Walcott" (9.4/10)- I love all the New England references in the lyrics, and the background keyboard part is outstanding.
11. "The Kids Don't Stand a Chance" (9.8/10)- What a great way to end the album. Definately one of the best on the album.

Hillmand ,

These Vampires Got Bite!

I love this album. I cannot say it enough--it's amazing. Their sound is funky, fresh, and takes a little getting used too, but it's worth it. These guys were first introduced to me by Teen Vogue and I've been in love ever since I looked them up.

Their sound is kinda African, kinda techno, kinda experimental, but not... it's basically just amazing. This is an album you must download, but if you cannot/don't want to, I recommend the following tracks:

Oxford Comma- my favorite on the album
A-Punk- it's funky
Walcott- upbeat and fun to dance to
One (Blike's Got A New Face)- the lyrics are amazing
Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa- it takes awhile to understand what they're saying, but when you do, it's amazing.

So, what are you waiting for? Click 'buy album' now!

GabrielaGibson ,

WE'VE NEEDED THIS, WORLD

It's all about the hints of ska - in the symbol crashes, in some drum beats, in some harmonies. Listen for it. Good job, guys. It's like a new crazy flavor of ice cream that you never realized has been your favorite your whole life. I'm grateful. I'm so grateful.

More By Vampire Weekend

You May Also Like