February 7, 2008

Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa

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Take a moment. Bend over. Adjust the short, taught laces on your Sperry Topsiders, fix your collar so it caresses that soft camel-hair sweater, slide on your Wayfarers and lay back on the coarse yet comfortable canvas deck of the carabineer that is currently floating in the East River. Feel that Tri-State area sun on your face. The newly installed speaker system echoes the enchanting Afro-Latino intonations of Tabu Ley Rocherau as they dance the samba atop his transcendent, eerily relevant high-register guitar pickings. Something seems to be digging into your back, what is this intrusive object? Why, it’s your thesis on the ethnomusicological impact of Post-Colonial imperialism in sub-Saharan Africa from Columbia University — magna cum laude to boot! Strange.
Time for some internet surfing (yes, on the boat) — perhaps a music blog or two? As you reach your desired site, a wholly out-of-body experience occurs. To your surprise, staring back at you from the depths of the glossy screen settled on your lap, is none other than yourself — pictured exactly as you appear, described in full form, splattered with titles and appropriations, your future already determined through the words of a modern underground music treasure hunter.
It’s not surprising that, in our blog-o-rific world, a band’s image could be so easily formed before its first album was even mastered. What’s surprising is the way the music itself could manage to subvert the drudgery of never-ending prognostications about what a neonatal band will come to signify for the music world at large. Vampire Weekend is as much a bold statement as it is a unassuming, gallantly simple display of a tight musicianship, inventive yet concise arrangements, whimsical lyrics and a voice that embodies the playful youth that album exudes throughout.
According to its website, the group’s tonality is “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa,” a relatively barren sonic background splattered with sensibilities of the cultured post-grad Paul Simon fan.
“One (Blake’s Got A New Face) embodies the jovial danceability that Vampire Weekend posses while, “The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance” reminds us of just how ornate their simplicity truly is — capitulating the album with harpsichord pre-sets, strings and a message to hold onto life’s innocence without material desires.
Of course, they can’t help but avoid their strong collegiate sensibilities, commenting on the taxing social trials of the university experience in “Campus: “Walk to class/ In front of ya/[…]How am I supposed to pretend/ I never want to see you again?” However, the keystone of the operation is the ebullient, perfectly constructed bounce-fest, “A-Punk.” Two minutes of fun complete with dancing flute synths, popping Africana guitars and tight, brit-pop-punk ‘ey ‘ey ‘ey’s.
Vampire Weekend has certainly re-created their pre-release image, overturned their many pretexts and simply produced an album that is seething with freshness and irresistibility — one that will cycle through your speakers on constant repeat without a hint of conceptual or musical wear.