Although the self-titled debut from Columbia grads Vampire Weekend just came out at the end of January, they were already christened the next big thing in many places, with features in NPR and The Guardian in 2007. Leave it to the dizzying speed of hype generated by blog culture to create a backlash before an album even sees a proper release.
A four-piece of preppy boys not afraid to admit it, they definitely owe a lot to Paul Simon's Afro-pop infused Graceland. This is apparent from the first measures of the opening track "Mansard Roof," a galloping percussive calliope to bop to. Tinged with winds and rounded out by xylophone, this addictive track is one to play on repeat when it's time to get a little pep to clean the kitchen. Actually, this entire release is just the ticket for cleaning the house, conquering the laundry, or getting anything going.
"Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" seems almost plucked out of Graceland down to the lyrical delivery. Let's not forget Peter Gabriel though, who gets a shout-out here.
The only truly down tempo song comes nine tracks in, with "I Stand Corrected." And that only manages to stay that way for the first few measures until the catchy, driving percussion jumps in. The afro-pop also takes back stage here to strings and synthy beats.
All that pep could get excruciating, but Vampire Weekend manage to make it all work. They never linger too long on a song--four minutes is long here--with frequent tempo shifts and melodic elements cascading on one another until they climax and then drop out to let the drum and bass shine.
These Ivy Leaguers have sure put out the perfect album to dance away those February blues. • Katy Henriksen