Ever fallen in love….

April 6, 2008 at 6:08 am (new releases, reviews)

….with something you shouldn’t have fallen in love with?

Yeah, Pete, I sympathize. I spent the better part of six months ignoring and/or feigning hatred/outrage for the buzzband flavor o’ the month, NYC’s own Vampire Weekend. Morton had hepped me to the Weekend back in August or July of last year, and I think I gave “Mansard Roof” all of 40 seconds before I recoiled in horror and decided that this was not my thing, as they say. I think it was an expectations thing: you hear “Vampire Weekend” as a band name and I dunno…I was expecting cave teen stomp-a-billy, or at worst really shitty goth revivalism (note to college freshmen intent on forming bands after flunking out this semester: we are not now, nor will we ever be, in need of a Mission UK or Sisters Of Mercy revival so just don’t, ok?) Instead, “Mansard Roof” bubbles out like the Mark Mothersbaugh soundtrack to some Wes Anderson pirate movie (now that, we could use…)

I could’ve left it at that, except for Sirius radio. One of the coolest gadgets I’ve seen recently is the Sirius Stiletto 2 portable satellite radio. I got one for Christmas, and it is a slick piece of hardware, managing to do all those cool satellite radio things, along with a lot of mp3 storage in a package the size of a small iPod. Last week I was walking home from a buddy’s house after an evening of beer and poker, and it was after midnight, the stars were out, a beautiful, balmy early spring night. I don’t even remember which Sirius station I had on the Stiletto, but I heard this song that seemed to effortlessly mix early Israelites-style reggae with a dash of Graceland-ish African feel, as well as that sort of dreamy Mothersbaugh-ish soundtrack shimmer. The song was “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa”, and in the setting I heard it in, it was absolutely perfect.

And that’s how it started. I got home and decided to give Vampire Weekend a good solid chance, and this time I noticed how cool songs like “Mansard Roof” and “Oxford Comma” really were. I noticed that “A-Punk” defies you to not fall under the spell of its tricky rhythms. I noticed especially that “Bryn” might be one of the most touching and gorgeous love songs I’ve heard in a while. What I also noticed is that this CD isn’t a bunch of hyper-precious refrigerator-art pretense; these fellows can write a terrific song and a wonderful melody hook, and manage to deliver it in a way that, lord help me, makes the heart feel glad.

So yeah, here I am buying into something that a month ago I would’ve told you was pure fraud. I can’t help it and I can’t deny it. Listening to Vampire Weekend makes me happy. There is a sense of joy and wonder shot through these songs that once taken root inside will possess you.

Here, have some video:

2 Comments

  1. Mikey said,

    Vampire Weekend is appalling!I saw them on SNL and they were so bad I rewound the DVR and watched them THREE TIMES to be sure I wasn’t missing out on some kind of subtle, ironic joke.I wasn’t.

  2. Rob said,

    WOO! Chris, you came around! I never thought it would happen. Your stonecold silence after all my fawning posts about Vampire Weekend had been absolutely deafening.I love listening to Vampire Weekend but I admit I have a very hard time watching them. Especially on TV. (That SNL appearance was just plain bad, mikey.) Their NYC record release concert was fun, but I often had to stop watching and just close my eyes to focus on the music. The way the lead singer acts can be annoying and I want to strangle the keyboardist with his giant pashmina scarf. In hindsight, I’m very glad I fell for them a year ago, well before they exploded into the public eye. Enough already.But the songs! Man, you nailed it, Chris. They just make me happy. I’m glad you gave them a second chance!

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