Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Vampire Weekend's Vampire Weekend

When I first got my hands on this album I was a bit sceptical. Another hyped band that "reinvents" a wheel that already has been reinvented a thousand times? I pressed play and started listening Mansard Roof: Nice little organ, cool drums, pleasant voice, all in all a nice little tune. Next song. Again that little organ. Is this their gimmick or something? Is this little instrument the only thing that differentiates them from all the others? Did they find it somewhere at a garage-sale or something? It's nice song though. An unusual topic; Who gives a fuck about an Oxford Comma? They raise the question themselves, and write a song about it. So they do give a fuck about it. Hope that organ doesn’t come back in the next song, hope they have more tricks up their sleeve.

A-punk sounds like they are cramped into a 2x2 room with all their equipment. Again a very cute song. In the chorus I hear another cute organ , but this one sounds like that tune from that skiing-game I played on my Commodore 64. My scepticism starts to disappear. On to the next song.

Is this Paul Simon? This whole song just breaths the relaxed nature of Simon at the time of Graceland. The major difference is that he is a lot more minimalist in his lyrics that Paul Simon. And then Peter Gabriel gets mentioned in the chorus. I guess "Peter Gabriel to" sounded a lot better than "Paul Simon to" (try it!). M79 starts of as a classical opera, completely with strings and medieval piano. The strength of this song starts at 2:30 minutes. It's a kind crescendo that they also used at Oxford Comma. The song is sophisticated but still sounds very simple and straightforward. The secret for a good pop-song?

Ah! The organ returns at "Campus". This song reminds me a bit of The Strokes. Especially that chorus with the guitars. I guess the Strokes have the copyright on that twin guitar effect. Still, they differentiate themselves with the extra instruments and a rhythm that's not just "1,2,3,4". Bryn flows by like a breeze. It has got its good points, but is not as "peculiar" as the first 7 of this album. With its 2.12 however it is not really a big disturbance.

Up till now I was still a bit in doubt. Is this band just a novelty, or are they really good? It's one thing to make good use of an organ and copy Paul Simon (or Peter Gabriel, whatever..) flawlessly, but can they stand on their own feet? "One (Blake's got a new face)" is the best song on this album, and convinced me that this is indeed a great new band. Just hear those drums kick in together with the synthesiser. They just went into that studio with the intention to have some good old fun, and make a good record in the process. And any band which let's the fun seep through their music, and tries something new, has got a fan in me.

"I stand corrected" and "Walcott" are more laid-back and traditional tunes. Not as inspiring as the best songs on this album, but also not real "filler" material. It kind of suites the album to end at a somewhat slower pace. Most bands would expose this more serious side of themselves on their second album (great examples being the Futureheads, or the Strokes) Vampire Weekend already reveals it on their first. Courage my friend, courage.

"The kids don’t stand a chance" ends their debute in style. One of the impressions I am left with is that it could be listened by a 7 year old kid and your grandparents, and they both would love it. It’s a very positive album. It’s light, but not naive. There is real musicianship and song-writing included and they are familiar with the concept of "less is more". It’s the song that counts, and my…oh my… there are some great and addictive tunes on this fun and original record.