Vampire Weekend

The self-titled, debut album by the band Vampire Weekend has received a great deal of acclaim since its release, almost to the point of hype. When a debut causes the band to be the new darlings of the critics, I become skeptical. Is everyone just jumping the bandwagon? Although I’ve been burned by the hype in the past, after hearing some samples online I took a chance and bought the disc.

Oxford Comma by Vampire Weekend (mp3) (from the band’s website)

The music from this New York quartet should probably be filed under Indie Rock, but as is often the case with good music, it transcends labels.

My current favorite on the album is “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa,” a song with borrows heavily from African sounds and rhythms (more specifically Congolese Soukous music and its Kwassa Kwassa dance rhythm).

sample of Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa by Vampire Weekend (mp3)

Other reviewers often mention Paul Simon’s Graceland when talking about this album. Not an inappropriate reference, although Vampire Weekend adds more of a sense of humor to the mix, and maybe a little youthful rebelliousness.

sample of A-Punk by Vampire Weekend (mp3)

You’ve got to love a band that doesn’t take itself too seriously. When I’m listening to Vampire Weekend the infectious rhythms, afro-pop guitar work, and smile-inducing lyrics instantly put me in a good mood. Something that’s very welcome through this long winter of record-breaking snowfall totals. As proof of the band’s sense of humor, a fun video of A-Punk by Vampire Weekend is available on YouTube (listen to the whole song there too).

The band members of Vampire Weekend are definitely not afraid of taking some risks for the sake of making good music. Another example is the song “M79” where they add a harpsichord and strings to their indie-rock/afro-pop sound, without taking it too far.

M79 by Vampire Weekend (mp3) (from the band’s website)

It’s very early in the year, but Vampire Weekend could possibly be the best debut album of 2008. Yes, sometimes the music really does live up to the hype.