"Vampire Weekend certainly have one of the best band names I’ve heard in ages, although their music unfortunately proves less exciting than one might have hoped."
Vampire Weekend certainly have one of the best band names I’ve heard in ages, although their music unfortunately proves less exciting than one might have hoped. Instead of an exhilarating brand of Cramps-style psychobilly, their self-titled debut album offers a polite, slightly underwhelming mix of indie-rock, chamber-pop and Afro-beat, which – no matter how much the group doth protest – is closer to the deathly dull “adult contemporary” stylings of Paul Simon’s Graceland than the electrifying rhythmic assault of Talking Heads on, say, ‘Blind’.
Of course, David Byrne has been very vocal in his support of Vampire Weekend, a rare lapse in taste from a man who in recent years has championed the likes of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and the Arcade Fire. Certainly, the album’s opening tracks, first single ‘Mansard Roof’ and ‘Oxford Comma’, are so reminiscent of the aforementioned Simon that the group’s inability to see the parallels suggests either hopeless naivety or wilful denial.
Throughout, Vampire Weekend proves to be an inoffensive – even at times highly imaginative – piece of work, but it’s not the sort of album that’s going to set the world alight. Indeed, there are moments when I questioned if this record should strictly be categorised as rock ‘n’ roll at all; the harpsicord and string intro of ‘M79’ is the sort of fare you might expect to encounter at a lunchtime performance in the National Concert Hall.
Having said that, there are definitely moments of inspiration here; the thumping groove of ‘Campus’, the upbeat ‘One (Blake’s Got A New Face)’ and the driving ‘Walcott’ all impressively showcase Vampire Weekend’s undoubted musical abilities. However, comparing the group’s rather timid sonic experimentation with the visionary eclecticism of fellow New Yorkers TV On The Radio is a bit like comparing Sum 41 to Nirvana.
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