The last time JUICE went for a Vampire Weekend we needed half a dozen blood transfusions and spent nearly a month in hospital. So, not to be recommended, then. Instead, we’ve replaced them with our new favourite band, Vampire Weekend, a group formed in 2006 by a group of students who met at elite super-brain fest Columbia University in New York.
Championed by the likes of cerebro-rocker David Byrne, Vampire Weekend should really have been the kind of quirky group that simply slipped between the tracks with its blueprint, a mixture of boldly intelligent lyrics, West African guitar jangling and indie rock jingling. But weirdly, America seems to be proclaiming the Vamps as the future of music, with appearances on Letterman and Saturday Night Live.
Admittedly, it’s an odd proposition. For the most part we tend to like our pop dumb, and Vampire Weekend, with their Ivy League educations and songs about punctuation and grammar (‘Oxford Comma’ and ‘I Stand Corrected’) and architecture (‘Mansard Roof’) are anything but. Plus they have the poshest named frontman in Ezra Koenig since Freddie Mercury changed his name from Frederick Bulsara.
But, like them we do. Named after a student film promo for a non-existent horror flick made by the band, the music is brash, loud and nonsensical, which are all big ticks in the JUICE rulebook. We also love the fact that their drummer pumps out some of the fastest hi-hat patterns since the heyday of jungle, and that their eclectic arrangements suggest what Arcade Fire would sound like if they weren’t shut up in gloomy former-chapels all day.
Signed to stealth indie XL Recordings, which is fast building a more powerful roster than many of the majors can even dream, Vampire Weekend’s self-titled and just released debut offers ten slices of summertime that makes you think of faraway lands and bands like Orange Juice. And their refusal to take themselves too seriously makes up for the music’s occasional run towards novelty land. The video for ‘Mansard Roof’ has the band (sort of) re-enacting a low budget version of Duran Duran’s ‘Rio’ clip on a yacht in New York harbour, although its hard to see them overcome their screaming nerdiness to be as popular with the supermodels as Simon Le Bon and Nick Rhodes. We especially love the clip for latest single ‘A-Punk’, which sees Los Vampiresos performing some high speed choreography as they bash their instruments and occasionally remove a layer of clothing.
Not that we’re aching to see their pale, pasty bodies. Come to think of it, we can’t think of a band that deserves to be named after vampires less. Although if the length of their current tour is anything to by they’ll be creatures of the night by the time they finish it in about 2014.
Vampire Weekend’s Vampire Weekend is out now on XL Recordings. For more log onto www.vampireweekend.com.
Text Matt Armitage