There was nothing brave about Vampire Weekend’s eponymous debut release. Just a couple of Ivy League kids making an indie-pop album after listening to an armful of Afro-pop records. Plenty of bands have done this before (See: Paul Simon, he actually went to Africa), but when Vampire Weekend handed out a few homemade EPs, the world was suddenly nipping at the bit for a full-length release back in 2006. This album, their debut, wasn’t released until 2008. The band’s mix of west-African pop with various other influences created a sound they’ve dubbed, “Upper West Side Soweto,” which won the hearts of even the most pretentious of folk.
With a music major, Rostam Batmanglij, who also write movie scores, it’s no wonder this album came out sounding like it did – syncopated bass lines, clever rhythms and strings, all while sounding completely effortless. I think that’s what makes this album so compelling. It doesn’t sound like the band tried to write an amazingly refreshing and replayable album. It sounds like just did.
Finally, you have lead singer, Ezra Koenig. Teeming with boyish charm it’s impossibly not to warm up to Koenig’s voice as he sings impulsive, gimmick-free melodies. To boot, the lyrics that accompany said melodies teeter a top a point between clever wordplay, emotional and observational, yet you are free of any guilt associated with the emotional aspects.
The combination of Koenig, Batmanglij and the Afro-pop influences is a perfect storm that will guaranteed warm your heart and have you clicking the repeat album button.