So to Vampire Weekend, one of my own small musical epiphanies of the last couple of months. Now I know that they're far from a new thing, having been making records since 2008 and currently being on the point of partial dissolution with musical maestro Rostam Batmanglij having left recently, (at least to some degree), to pursue his own ventures.
Still I'm late to this, I haven't been paying attention all these years, having dismissed them, or more accurately disregarded them, in my head for whatever reason without really listening to their stuff. They're a band that seem to provoke strong reactions from an indie community that doesn't really tend towards emotional responses to anything at all, so cool we've all become nowadays.
Vampire Weekend epitomise this notional 'coolness' better than anyone but seem to rattle some cages as a result of the Ivy League backgrounds they emerged from. Instead of opting for careers in real estate or Wall Street as might have been expected of them they've chosen to occupy that zone of Manhattan hipness that was once the prerogative of down at heel street poets like Lou Reed, Tom Verlaine and Johnny Thunders.
David Byrne is perhaps a better comparison point than those listed above. Legs McNeill, in his unbeatable oral history of New York, derides Byrne and Talking Heads for their arrival at CBGBs after the initial first wave of bands, for bringing a Yuppie whine to the Lower East Side. The member of Vampire Weekend's decision to become pop musicians rather than corporate suits and to talk of what they do as 'jobs' in interviews is just the latest example of the gentrification of popular culture.
But Vampire Weekend are no American equivalent of Mumford & Sons. They're far, far better than that at what they do. All three of their albums will stand the test of time lyrically and musically. Here is Oxford Grammar from their first, still one of their definitive statements. It's pretty much pop perfection and the promo, which I sadly can't post here as there's no direct link, (here's an indirect one), is an indicator of their early sensibility. As perfect a replication of the worldview of Wes Anderson, (the video's directed by Richard Ayoade, a disciple of his), as its possible to get. A marriage of two totems of Twee.