Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Vampire Weekend
XL Recordings

Vampire Weekend’s second album is fairly bursting with ideas, thoughts, and feelings. It succeeded on every track putting its points across both musically and lyrically. It is wonderful in every way, and easily tops their debut.

They opened their sound to other cultures, from third wave ska bands like Operation Ivy to Brazilian baile funk, to name a couple of examples, and moved beyond their basic afro-pop sound. Ezra Koenig’s singing has improved greatly, much more adult, and what he does with his voice, whether by scatting like on “Cousins”, or entwining his voice with a Kalimba thumb piano on “Horchata”, makes the emotions and thoughts in the music come out in the lyrics as well.

“Diplomat’s Son” is a great example. Assuming the main character is gay, a man looks back at a best friend, the diplomat’s son, who wasn’t very diplomatic. The main character knows he loves him, can’t bring himself to admit it, so he wants to use him instead. One night they smoke a joint, go to bed for what turns out to be a one night stand, and leaves the main character with a terrible memory. Musically there is a lot going on, the warm, bouncy melodies and rhythms of dancehall, Bollywood, West African guitar music, a percussive sample from MIA’s “Hussel”, and a guitar interpolation of “Pressure Drop” makes the emotions of the song come through nicely, and powerfully.

Because it’s mid January, it’s probably too early to say that there will be very few albums that are as good. These songs are wonderful, and the band’s vision so strong, that it is hard to say anything else. This truly is the first masterpiece of the year, and what a cool way to start the musical year. [
Andrea Weiss

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