The first song I heard by Vampire Weekend was “Mansard Roof”. I hated everything about it. I hated how it was trying to be so clever (it’s called “Mansard Roof”!) and I hated the video, especially the deck shoes. Then I heard “Oxford Comma” and loved it and my opinion of Vampire Weekend completely changed.
As soon as I heard Vampire Weekend for the first time, I knew I’d bought an album I’d keep on coming back to. It’s tuneful without being too simple and interesting without being too difficult, with a good balance of sounds that are instantly familiar (guitars, standard song structures) and some that are fairly new to the indie rock genre (“world” music, baroque strings and harpsichords). They’ve been accused of appropriating and dumbing down various styles of music to appeal to the masses, but I think this is what makes them stand out from other generic indie bands.
The quality of the songs isn’t half bad either. The album starts with the three singles – “Mansard Roof”, “Oxford Comma” and “A-Punk” – which could result in it being dangerously front-loaded. Fortunately, the rest of Vampire Weekend more than lives up to the standard set by its openers, with only the self-parody of “One (Blake’s Got A New Face)” letting things down. There are plenty of highlights on here and I seem to have a different favourite every time I listen to it, but “M79” and “The Kids Don’t Stand A Chance” just about edge it for me. “I Stand Corrected” is great too, and just avoids sounding like an Arcade Fire pastiche.
I listen to Vampire Weekend a lot, and can see myself continuing to do so. I tend to find something different every time I give it my full attention (the strings in “Bryn” and “Mansard Roof” have just struck me for the first time), but it’s also great to have on in the background. It’s become one of my favourite albums, and it’s one I’ll definitely continue to put on regularly. And yes, I have scored it higher than Definitely Maybe.