Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend

Vampire Weekend
Vampire Weekend

What a great year it has been already and it only seems to continue. I feel that I could already make a solid top ten list for 2008, already! And what a way to end the first month of the year with Vampire Weekend’s self-titled debut. To be succinct and simple, this is a jangly indie-rock quartet from New York City. All four members met in Columbia University where they created the band. But it’s the band’s energy and unique arrangements and instrumentations that really make it a winner.

This is a lean, mean album that finishes after only 34 minutes of indie-rock perfection. “I Stand Corrected” starts off in what seems to be a ballad style before the drums and driving bass kick in. It ends up being a kiss-off song about a boyfriend/girlfriend dispute that is captivating and dreamy. Just when you don’t think it could get any better, the strings kick in and that killer Sting-like bass riff steals the show.

This band already had big things ahead of them because their EP (also self-titled) from last year gained rave reviews. Even Rolling Stone honored their song, “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” as their #67 best song of 2007. That song is also found on the full-length LP and it is a standout track. However, every song sounds distinctly unique, yet, dissimilar from the previous one.

The album is filled with polyrhythmic techniques and a lot of it seems to be influenced or at least grounded in African pop with some calypso and reggae undertones and Western classical music. And their influences are obvious on here with everything from Talking Heads to Graceland era-Paul Simon and the aforementioned, The Police. The band itself has defined their style of music as “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa, Upper West Side Soweto, Campus and Oxford Comma Riddim,” I am not really sure what that means but hey, it kind of works.

The violins on “M79” could be taken directly from the Classical era with their melodic and pizzicato styling. The opener on here, “Mansard Roof” is filled with some great syncopation and creative guitar work and those great moments don’t ever end. Around the minute and ten mark of “Walcott” it’s as if you stepped into the Baroque ear as the cello takes off with the melody—it really is something else. The second song, “Oxford Comma” is gritty and yet the music is prettier than ever. The keyboards are light and bouncy while the lyrics are anything but pleasant. And the Irish-influenced “Bryn” sounds like it could have made a perfect match on last year’s Best Picture winner, The Departed.

There will always be a new band that just comes in and knocks your socks off with a great album. Usually it takes a while before you find it but it almost always happens once a year. I just didn’t think it would be here so soon in 2008 with Vampire Weekend. This is a magnificent debut, filled with endless melodies, memorable hooks and plenty of toe-tapping moments.