first_img4/5Vampire Weekend- Vampire WeekendAfter the buzz generated by the Blue CD-R, a self-produced demo distributed by the band at gigs last year, and a high ranking on the BBC’s Sound of 2008 list, Vampire Weekend’s self-titled has been one of the most eagerly anticipated debuts of the year. The finished product builds on the promise of that demo by solidifying the production and adding two new songs, which add variety and round out the record’s sound excellently. Crudely characterised as The Strokes-meet-Paul Simon’s-Graceland, that only captures some of what is going on in their melting pot of African rhythms, warm organ stabs and thick guitar sound. They do share the lo-fi rock sensibilities of The Strokes, as well as the occasionally naive persona of the lyrics: “Why would lie ‘bout something dumb like that?/ Why would you lie, ‘bout anything at all?” from the excellent Oxford Comma being a prime example. But there are also hints of distinctively New York string-adorned pop in the vein of Lou Reed, particularly on the Kids Don’t Have a Chance and M79. The latter, sounding like it has come straight from a Wes Anderson soundtrack, is possibly the highlight of the album.The band has attracted inevitable brickbats for being poshos who met at Columbia University, but there is more than enough charm running through the record to avoid succumbing to accusations of empty hipsterism and cultural tourism. There is a clear affection for the African musical tradition they are borrowing from, and Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa displays a sense of playful self-deprecation of their attempt at cross-cultural synthesis: “This feels so unnatural/ Peter Gabriel too.”Coupled with an undoubted knack for melody, this is an extremely assured, consistently entertaining record and a vindication of their undoubted musical ambition. Heavily influenced, yes, but their overall sound is very much their own.by Carl Cullinanelast_img read more