What a quirky band. Vampire Weekend does it again with their latest album, , the follow-up to their very college-oriented debut in 2008. They are a band that features chaotic and seemingly random juxtapositions at all times, from the musical content to the album cover featuring an unknown blonde girl, to the titular reference of a Nicaraguan guerilla movement.
Opening this album and setting the tone for its remainder is “Horchata.” An eclectic mix of almost tropical yet worldly sounds, this song delights the ears and generally leaves one uplifted. The song’s use of wooden marimbas and percussion instruments leaves the music playing in one’s head long after the song has ended.
Following this up is “White Sky.” Shifting gears slightly, it continues the worldly sound, yet invokes feelings of nostalgia. The song’s chorus is a tad annoying, featuring the ringing, indie-equivalent of yodeling. On the whole, the song doesn’t quite compare to “Horchata,” although the nostalgic is certainly nice.
“Holiday,” the next song, is just simply fun. With fast-paced rhythms and quick melodies that could even be described as cute, this song both entertains and energizes. The song use of falsetto never grates the ears and is just absent and subtle enough to not be annoying.
“California English” unfortunately features the sacrilege that is Auto-tone. The song itself isn’t too different from anything that’s been seen before, but does feature some nice piano portions.
It’s follow-up, “Run,” brings back the nostalgia element found in some previous songs. Complemented by some “child-like” drum parts and a trumpet solo, this song definitely carries the Indie-feel well, although occasionally feels repetitive.
The single “Cousins” is a medley of chaos in the best way possible. Featuring frantic drum and guitar solos, the high energy of this song makes it the peak of the album. This song is great if only because it breaks the occasional monotony of the previous songs with its frantic pace.
“Diplomat’s Son” is a return to the song’s worldly and tribal influences. With pleasant, tropical beats and sounds interlaced through the music, the song relaxes the listener and is a nice break to burn off the excess energy of “Cousins.”
The album ends with “I Think Ur a Contra,” a euphoric piece bound to remind the listener of flowers and fields. Carried mostly by the singer and synthesizers in the beginning, the song switches to piano and percussion in the latter half, creating an interesting musical contrast an ending the album with the unorthodox approach that makes the band so popular.
Lyrically, this band probably won’t appeal to mainstream tastes. While possibly fun to sing, most of the lyrics and aspects of the band seem to be trendy, mock-intellectual references. Indie lyrics, like indie movies, are the kind many people watch to say they watched them.
The singing quality of Vampire Weekend inspires only love or hate. The falsettos can come off as annoying after a while and lack the resonance of other falsettos, such as those found in Sigur Rós.
The energetic, almost-empowering group vocals are great and remind one of the group singing found in Arcade Fire, another band with very similar music. Some of the songs that try too hard to be different become grating to the ears, especially with regards to the vocals.
Overall, the band will deliver to its fans everything they wanted: trendy lyrics, eclectic influences and yet an ultimately mainstream feel.
Indie bands are interesting because they’ve become the very beast they sought to subvert and because of that, this album will appeal to a wide range of people. Despite being innovative in some ways, the songs never stray too far into the unusual or “out-there” and manage to stay in pop territory.
While not breaking as much ground as its fans might claim, this album is fun for all and all for fun.
Vampire Weekend makes it easy to overlook the stereotype of “stuck-up rich boys from Columbia University” that many people give them with their catchy music and powerful vocals.