Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend

Three Hundred Ninety-Seven Words: Everything that’s cool or interesting about rich, privileged, white kids can be found in Vampire Weekend’s self-titled debut. Usually, I wouldn’t admit to liking anything about such a class of people, but when the music is this good, I have to give it proper recognition.

I’m not talking about the spoiled brats of today with their MTV Sweet Sixteen parties and IM obsessions. No. I’m talking about the jerks in John Hughes’ films with the nice cars and upturned collars. Even though you hated these guys, you still kind of wanted to be them…except for their penchant for backstabbing their friends and attempts to date rape Molly Ringwald.

Besides giving us someone to hate (or vote for), rich kids serve many other fine purposes culturally. Who else knows enough to write songs noticing French architectural features (“Mansard Roof”)? Or lament the boringness of Cape Cod with a Paul Simon Afro-beat (“Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa”)? Who else could have a crush on a girl named Bryn (“Bryn”)? Hell, who even knows a girl named Bryn? These are important or at least entertaining topics that let us see how the other half lives.

Although these Ivy League boys have lived privileged lives, they are still aware of class difference and the place of misappropriated art in their music. Those Columbia degrees are good for something, I guess. The elitism of language (“Oxford Comma”), bourgeois retreats (“Walcott”), and college romance (“Campus”) are addressed over Afro-beats and Caribbean rhythms; all the while you get the sense that they are really misappropriating the likes of Simon, Peter Gabriel, and The Police and not those guys who sang and danced backup on the Graceland tour.

Additionally, other, more current cultural references related to young, white, and privileged metropolitans can be easily traced to Vampire Weekend’s music. Images of Wes Anderson films run throughout the lyrics (“One”) and orchestration (“M79”). Musical connections are also there with other NYC bands like White Rabbits or The Walkmen (“I Stand Corrected”, “Walcott”). None of it as deplorable as the rich kids these films and music represent. In fact, it's quite the opposite. The music is refreshing and new, the last things I expected to come from the likes of Ezra, Rostam, Chris, and Christopher.

I am all for class war, but when a band records a record like Vampire Weekend, I can call a truce.

The one song that makes it worth $17.95: "Oxford Comma"

Pitchfork Says: 8.8


Lauren said...

Yay! You reviewed it! When I stumbled on their Myspace page a while back I had no idea they were as well known/respected as they are. Since then I've been seeing their name pop up in everything from Pitchfork to Rolling Stone to the New York Times. I'm glad to see you enjoyed the record. I ordered mine on vinyl and am eagerly awaiting its arrival.

Zach said...

For the record, I had a boss named Brin at a summer job. Hardcore white trash. Bad times.

comoprozac said...

For the record, your Brin is spelled with an "i", VW's Bryn is with a "y". Apparently, that's the fine line between the Upper West Side and a trailor park.

Kate said...

I knew a Bryn from Bellefontaine. We were in ballet together.

comoprozac said...

OK, fine. We all know a Bryn/Brin. I still stand by the assertion that it is a pretentious name.

Kate said...

It was Cindy Derring's niece. I don't believe I'd call the Derring's pretentious.

I'm just giving you a rough time anyway...that's what little sisters are for.

comoprozac said...

Thank you, Lauren for keeping the discussion on the music. Vampire Weekend has released the album of the year (so far) despite their despicable privilege and pretensions.

Case closed.

comoprozac said...

Interestingly, the All Things Considered review of VW sounds very similar to my take on the record.

Listen here.

Jake said...

I'm holding on to dear life to not listen to them.

I can't help but chuckle at my feelings, I really am an elitist a-hole about music. I have a semi-boycott of anything that's referred to as indie-pop (come on, this stuff has to be used up by now!), but I will take your implicit advice and listen to them. I will most likely like it.

Kate said...

So I'm going to stay on topic with this one...I forced myself to stay up Saturday night to see what all the panting was about. Granted, I only heard two songs but I have to say I was at a loss as to why The Vampire Weekend is the current craze. I didn't detest them but I wasn't blown away in that "Oh my god, I love Canadian Bands" kind of way. I think I'd just rather listen to The Clash. And can we all agree that the scarf that the keyboard player was wearing the most pretentious scarf ever?

comoprozac said...

Actually, the SNL appearance didn't do anything for me either. It was sort of lame. Besides the scarf, I'm not a big fan of the front man Koenig's silly sweater and even sillier facial expressions. Check out their stuff on their Daytrotter sessions before you completely write them off, though.