Release Date: Jan 29, 2008
Record label: XL
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
With the Internet able to build up or tear down artists almost as soon as they start practicing, the advance word and intense scrutiny doesn't always do a band any favors. By the time they've got a full-length album ready to go, the trend-spotters are already several Hot New Bands past them. Vampire Weekend started generating buzz in 2006 -- not long after they formed -- but their self-titled debut album didn't arrive until early 2008.
Review by Matt Liebowitz.
It won’t be that difficult to understand why Vampire Weekend are burning up the blogosphere. Their clever-cute rhymes and songs inspired by Ivy League campus life, with a daring use of “shit” or “fuck” for punctuation, are custom-tailored to delight every poindexter with Internet access who dreams of being the first to post a review pointing out the influence of Mighty Sparrow on the group. The Vampire Weekend crew, who met at Columbia University, have clearly heard enough soukous and highlife to cop a few guitar licks to cloak their orch-pop pretensions, but almost by accident, the way their chamber strings are played over jaunty grooves makes for an engaging concoction, at least for a few spins.
As if on cue amid the recent critical hemming and hawing over indie rock's cultural appropriations drops Vampire Weekend's official debut with enough justified buzz to render the entire debate moot. It's not simply that the New York quartet dices Afro-pop rhythms throughout that skitter across any number of musical inflections in service of pop perfection, as is the case with the classical harpsichord and strings buttressing "M79." No, it's that the songs are so undeniably catchy and aware of their pretensions as to deflect inevitable deconstruction. The Ivy Leaguers transcend simple irony through an almost absurd self-consciousness, "Oxford Comma" wrangling Lil Jon and Buddhist lamas to reveal an exploited authenticity anyway.
Vampire Weekend, the hyped Brooklyn quartet, is a band of cynics. The group’s collective sneer is not limited to its song titles, or to its obsession with Cape Cod, or to its lyrics, a procession of verses mixing brash Ivy League privilege with sophomoric desire. Vampire Weekend’s cynicism, rather, runs deeper. So much so, that one can detect it permeating the entirety of their self-titled debut, beginning with each player’s musical approach and ending with the group’s penchant for preppy sweaters.