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Rhythm & Views

Vampire Weekend


Four rap-loving Columbia University grads get hip to the charms of Afro-pop, write a handful of songs with ultra-literate lyrics referencing preppie talking points (Madras plaid, the validity of the Oxford comma, Louis Vuitton, Hyannis Port, Benetton), dub their sound "Upper West Side Soweto" (sigh), give some great live performances, land a gig touring with the Shins and are lauded as indie-rock's Next Big Thing, all without a full-length album under their (striped-fabric) belts.

Sounds rather insufferable, doesn't it? Now, with the release of their eponymous album, Vampire Weekend's phenomenal rise makes perfect sense, as the album is a wonder, with not a bad or dull track to be found.

"Fusion" is the term oft used to describe Vampire Weekend's music, as ska, Afro-pop, new wave and reggaeton beats are all readily evident; so are the stylings of The Police, Paul Simon (circa Graceland), Taking Heads and Peter Gabriel. But Vampire Weekend doesn't so much fuse these influences together as they reorganize them in a way that is utterly fresh and truly modern, while retaining the format of the infectious, three-minute pop song.

As a result, the tunes on Vampire Weekend go beyond catchy and pretty. "M-79" is gorgeous and exuberant; "The Kids Don't Stand a Chance" beautifully marries haunting, melancholy violin to Ezra Koenig's unabashedly earnest vocals; "A-Punk" is a joyous exercise in pop-ska. I challenge anyone to not like "Oxford Comma," a perfect, unself-conscious pop song with a steady, dance-floor-ready reggaeton beat.

These kids definitely stand a chance.

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