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Review

Vampire Weekend creates buzz, excitement with debut album

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February 7, 2008

On their self-titled debut, Vampire Weekend has become quite the buzz band. While a portion of their first effort was leaked onto the internet back in September, they still manage to impress and amuse with creative sound influenced by Western Classical, Afro-pop, reggae and New Wave. It will make you grin, or perhaps smirk, with happy-go-lucky (if not too cute) tunes.

Take for instance their biggest charmer, “Oxford Comma.” Singer Ezra Koenig manages to take a line like “Who gives a fuck about an Oxford comma?” and make it sound like it’s a Sesame Street pop ditty. Or try “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa,” which may have been ripped from Paul Simon’s library.  Not only do bongo and congo drums take front and center, toy pianos jam like real ones, and Koenig’s falsetto kicks into gear while references to Peter Gabriel are made in the chorus.

Vampire Weekend sound their best when they keep it simple. “A-Punk” is merely Rockabilly-lite with a sexy bass line, and “Mansard Roof” repeats verses several times and features a classical-esque guitar shredding the same theme over and over again. However, songs like “M79” prove that too much suffocates, as what starts with laid back strings, a harpsichord and drums, changes drastically to a march of drama (“No excuse to be so callous/Dress yourself in bleeding madras/Charm your way across the Kyber Pass”).

The album slips further with “Campus,” delving into High School Musical territory, only, it’s supposed to appear differently, taking place at a college.  Don’t buy it.  With lyrics like, “How am I supposed to pretend/I never want to see you again?” it’s hard to take seriously.

Lucky for us, these songs are a distraction leading to better things.  “Walcott” brings the quartet back to Rock beats and more interesting ideas.  Perhaps rooted in from personal experiences, it’s about letting go and starting new (The bottleneck is a shit-show/ Hyannisport is a ghetto/ Out of Cape Cod tonight”).

But the highlight has to be “I Stand Corrected.”  Stripped down to an organ to lead way for a “Crocodile Rock” piano riff, the song builds and morphs into a song of powerful mystery, as Koenig confesses “Lord knows I haven’t tried/I’ll take my stand one last time.”  Is he admitting to a relationship? Alcohol abuse?  It’s unclear, but it gives an important lesson of college life: while we all make mistakes, it’s the ones we can admit to that make us human.

Matthew Loosbrock is a student at UW-River Falls.