December 15th, 2007 - by Fred J. Simani
Buy From Strictly Discs
Ezra Koenig (vocals / guitar), Rostam Batmanglij (keyboards / vocals), Chris Tomson (Drums), and Chris Baio (bass) met while attending Columbia University and formed what is now known as Vampire Weekend. The New York City band depicts their sound as "Upper West Side Soweto". These ten tales from the preppy young boys with a taste for popular African music and Western Classical Music work tremendously well. In June 2007 the New York Times wrote that "Even without an album, Vampire Weekend have made one of the most impressive debuts of the year." VW should soon be blazing over the nearest college campuses with a fury that will have everyone grooving along to their own blend of Afro-pop flavored indie rock.
Ezra Koenig starts out their self titled album stating that he can "see a Mansard roof through the trees" painting the picture of the Columbia campus and its Empire style architecture. The song contains an arrangement of strings (keyboard) and heavy reverb on the guitar: a match made in heaven. "A-Punk" (most danceable) Koenig's brilliant guitar work mixed with Batmanglij's ambient keyboard chords in the chorus, makes for one the finest tracks on the album.
" Who gives a fuck about an Oxford Comma", states Koenig in an apathetically spoken statement; he has seen those English dramas, diction dripping with disdain. A song with a title about a comma used immediately before a grammatical conjunction that precedes the last item in a list of three or more items and the song is brilliant.
In the song "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" (which references Congolese soukous music), the beautiful bridge seems to be cut from the same fabric as Paul Simon's Graceland and flows perfectly within the confines of a jumpy, afro-pop four cord progression…it's the "hit"…one of those songs with a guitar hook that will never leave your mind. Later on we move into the very danceable "Boston" which has it's typical 4/4 time Ramones style drum beat but done with ivy league class; there is no monotony. Koenig croons" I've dreamed of Boston all of my life". Later on the song comes to an abrupt and morbid bridge with only church organ and Koenig promising how he will put the morbid family streak to rest. "Campus" gives off imagery of the college campus in a love song with its driving guitar lines almost mimicking Albert Hammond Jr. from The Strokes,. Track seven, "One" has this bouncing beat which you can't help but groove on. You will catch yourself singing "Blake's got a new face". The song" Bryn" opens with a beautiful south African guitar line and the layered vocals from Koenig makes for a perfectly executed track and one of my favorite songs on the album and possibly one of the best I have heard in a while.
The whole album holds up extremely well with "Walcott" the bouncing, piano tinged song about getting out of "Cape Cod tonight" and finally ending with"The Kids Don't Stand A Chance" a reggae flavored kiss goodbye which bookends this wonderful album.