Vampire Weekend, Vampire Weekend

Chuck Eddy

By Chuck Eddy

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Vampire Weekend

Vampire Weekend

This quartet of recent Columbia University alumni pick up as much press for their boat shoes and for being social-networking hype-cycle poster children as for their lyrics about French architecture and serial commas and commuting from New England. But their biggest selling point is their incorporation of African and Caribbean guitar and drum lilts into baroque indie pop-rock — alternately lifted by roller-rink keyboards and chamber-group string cheese.

Recent Columbia University alumni ponder French architecture, serial commas and commuting from New England.

Not the easiest pursuit to pull off: “This feels so unnatural/ Peter Gabriel, too” goes one line in the instructively titled “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa.” But sifting the global appropriations through ’80s British pop helps. “A-Punk” follows ska hooks from the English Beat's “Best Friend” with polite gang shouts; “The Kids Don't Stand a Chance” walks on the moon like the early Police; “One (Blake's Got a New Face)” mashes “Another One Bites the Dust,” New Order and the electric slide into a rhythmic call-and-response. And Ezra Koenig's drama-club diction can be endearing, especially when the melody's as sweet as in “Walcott,” about escaping Cape Cod. Not shy about rhyming “campus” with “romances,” Vampire Weekend almost convince you they're the only living college boys in New York. Paul Simon would be proud: So long Frank Lloyd Wright, hello Mansard roofs.