Vampire Weekend


Sasha Frere-Jones’ recent shit-stirring essay in The New Yorker touted indie rock as a soulless endeavor. In the wake of Frere-Jones’ accusations of declining musical miscegenation and racial re-sorting comes Vampire Weekend, not necessarily a genre resuscitator, but an indication that artists are ever influenced by black music. Vampire Weekend frequently finds its muse in Africa—places like Congo, where a hip-swaying dance rhythm is filched for the track “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa.” Baby-soft hand drums tumbling in the song’s background, the New York City quartet’s ambitions come into focus: Afrobeat is just one of many influences in its re-working of standard Western pop. So despite the indie-colonist maneuvers, Vampire Weekend never plays pretentiously epic or grand. It thrives on subtleties: the organ blips in “Oxford Comma,” the university-love naïveté of “Campus,” the “oh-oh-ohs” in the ska-influenced “A-Punk.” Then again, when cataloguing all the influences (ska, African or otherwise), it’s important to note that Vampire Weekend isn’t necessarily about originality, but execution. Carefree, catchy execution.