It’s not that I equate Vampire Weekend with Miley Cyrus or the Pussycat Dolls. The boys in the band play their own instruments and compose their own work. For all I know, every person in the group is quite nice. But the meteoric rise in popularity that they’ve enjoyed, which has spanned maybe the last three years, baffles the hell out of me. So despite the fervor that NPR, Stereogum, and mostly likely a big chunk of my peers show towards Vampire Weekend’s upcoming album, Contra something or other, I will not give in. To bring back a phrase that my friend, Ela, introduced into our daily vernacular, I refuse it. This is why I refuse to jump on the Vampire Weekend wagon.
- The Paul Simon comparison
I’m sorry, but until the band comes up with a song as anthemic as “You Can Call Me Al” or as relevant as “Bridge over Troubled Water,” the only connection I see is that they are the most popular band that happens to fall under the Capetown-by-way-of-Cape-Cod umbrella. If someone must be compared to Simon, let it be Simon’s first son, who came out with a very strong solo album last October. Harper Simon has even appeared on Sesame Street (as a very small child singing “Bingo” with his dad). Until Vampire Weekend explains what an Oxford comma is to Big Bird, I refuse this dubious parallel.
- The Upper West Side Soweto style
For a similar reason why some peoples’ ears emit steam when they hear the word “moist,” the fact that this name exists for a two-artist genre makes me want to grind my teeth slowly and menacingly. I’m not too keen on Afro-pop, either. I don’t care if the Dirty Projectors get lumped into that description more often than not. Just quit it. The only made-up words I enjoy are the ones that I make up. I refuse this distinction.
- The obsession with preppy everything
Until Zack Morris joins Vampire Weekend, I’m just not down with the band’s preoccupation with polo shirts and campus intrigue. One would expect me to love a bunch of boys blatantly obsessed with literature and cultures outside of their educated, Northeast backgrounds. Clearly, the prep school scene was a definitive one for Vampire Weekend, one that ultimately brought the members together and infused their sound with its buttoned-up legacy. Unless I get a Zack Attack, I refuse it.
Despite the criticism I’ve lobbed here, I have to commend Vampire Weekend for cranking out a sound that is simultaneously thoughtful and playful, as well as achieving the degree of success they’ve obtained in a relatively short time. I think “Oxford Comma” is irrepressibly catchy. But it’s the same frustration you have with the characters in Wes Anderson’s movies. They’re stunningly intelligent, wear tasteful clothing (especially these tracksuits), and participate in stimulating hobbies. With all of that going for them, why are they so bad at informal and impolite interactions? Why do their concerns seem so unreal? My unsolicited advice for Vampire Weekend: After the promotions for Contra whatever that album is have ended, go to Africa for a few months. Soak up what the residents know about music, then come back to the studio and determine whether you still want grammar and vacations in Hyannis to be the focus of your work.
- Harper Simon ~ Harper Simon ~ Tulsi
If you wish to hear the new Vampire Weekend album, NPR is streaming it for a limited time