It’s the second installment of ivyTunes, our new music column. Our critic has the mic:
Okay. I admit it. I’m addicted to snark. Which isn’t unusual for a twentysomething, male, Ivy League Lower Manhattanite desperate to hide his surburban breeding beneath layers of ironic pop-culture expertise and expensively distressed clothing. But your MP3s are seriously aggravating my condition. Like “The Guns,” by Silencer (Yale ’03). I, for one, wish this song sounded more silent.
But don’t get me wrong. From time to time even I fall in love with a band — truly, madly, deeply. And Columbia’s Vampire Weekend (three ’06ers, one ’07) is one of those bands. Usually, Ivy League acts are bad because they’re Ivy League. You know: competent but uninspired. No rough edges. Irrationally sure of themselves. And totally derivative. If you’re smart enough, talented enough or connected enough to get into an Ivy, you probably don’t need rock ‘n’ roll to save your life. At that point it’s just another extracurricular.
But Vampire Weekend manages, against all odds, to make its Iviness a virtue. In rock, brainy usually means bad. Here, it’s thrilling. “Oxford Comma” borrows its name from the superfluous punctuation mark, then rhymes it with “lama,” “English drama” and “Dharamsala” (a town in northern India, according to Google). “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” harnesses the loose energy of 1980s Congolese dance music to do the girl-meets-boy thing — complete with cameos from Louis Vuitton, reggaeton, Peter Gabriel and the United Colors of Benetton. And the preppiest VW number, “Walcott,” reads like a map of coastal New England, namechecking Hyannisport, Mystic, Wellfleet and Provincetown. On all three tracks, the percussion is simple. The keyboards are simpler. And the melodies are hardly Mozart. But it’s such sturdy, well-arranged and absurdly catchy stuff that I found myself hitting repeat for hours on end.
Alright, this is making me uncomfortable. Please return to sending in crap music. I know you have it in you.
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