Does Vampire Weekend suck? - Page 2

Treasure Island Music Festival: A critical mass of critical stabs
Half of Vampire


AFRO-POP CO-OPTERS? J-Shep recognizes that the conventional critic's wisdom on the band "focuses on blind Afro-pop jacking and sartorial missteps," but sees the band's real fault as a kind of essential anal attention to detail, making their songs feel "claustrophobically ordered."

GRACELAND COMPARISON? Namedrops in passing "Graceland rhythms" when describing VW's blog-breakthrough single, "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" — for Shepherd this affiliation is only slightly more consequential than their strong preference for Oxford shirts.

THE JAMS? The band so repeatedly work over their influences and presentation that eventually there's "nothing left but space and simplicity and precious little conflict."


AFRO-POP CO-OPTERS? Abebe sets us up with a series of African reference points: "Mansard Roof" 's keyboard tone recalls "old West-African pop," Koenig's guitar has a "clean, natural tone you'd get on a record from Senegal or South Africa." He goes on to implicitly dismiss the idea of appropriation — the outfit plays those suggestive sounds "like indie kids on a college lawn, because they're not hung up on Africa in the least."

IVY LEAGUERS? "Ivy League" makes a single appearance in the text, evoked as an easy target for haters, but considerations of VW's education leave a stamp on Abebe's thinking here: Abebe claims Koenig's background allows him the insight to "summon up the atmosphere of kids whose parents use "summer" as a verb.

GRACELAND COMPARISON? According to Abebe, Simon "never sounded this exuberant."

THE JAMS? Despite listeners bringing their baggage to the band, it returns "nothing but warm, airy, low-gimmick pop, peppy, clever, and yes, unpretentious."


AFRO-POP CO-OPTERS? This is Harvey's focus, and he kills it with a supersophisticated reading that manages to reference the classic ethnographic text "The Masai on the Lawn." Ultimately, Harvey's less worried about VW's so-called "indie-style colonialism" — from his perspective, the band knows exactly what they're doing by playing with such charged ideas — than he is about how intentional the provocation is.

IVY LEAGUERS? The blog post — dated a month after the release of the band's debut single, "Mansard Roof" — makes one mention of this, a good indication of the extent to which the unit's bio had saturated the blogosphere. Harvey, a graduate student, has the most nuanced understanding of how VW's privilege inflects their coy performance of "clueless bougie cosmopolitanism."

GRACELAND COMPARISON? Harvey suggests that VW is canny enough not to make "sappy pap that's impossible to fuck to in your parents' beach house."

THE JAMS? Harvey's approach implicitly rejects the blogospheric pressure to confuse what the music means socially with its sonic qualities.

Vampire Weekend plays 5:55 p.m., Sun/21, on the Bridge Stage at the Treasure Island Festival.

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