Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Vampire Weekend: Vampire Weekend [XL, 2008]
Young twentysomethings who write about what they know--college. Liberal arts majors broad-minded enough to worry that "ion displacement won't work in the basement," they took their Columbia studies seriously, which is my idea of how to exploit privilege (though how much privilege is less self-evident than Ivy-hatas assume). Hence all the flags about appropriated exotica, class distinctions and cultural capital--and the not unrelated correct accents, designer brands and vacation retreats. Their chief thematic concern is whether there's life after graduation, and rather than Afropop, from which they misprise a guitar sound but nothing of the groove it was conceived to serve, their music, as with most fresh recent bands good and bad, is quite Euro. Affecting a clarity and delight that pleases the many and confounds the some, their lyrically alluring, structurally hop-skip-and-jumping songs aren't deep. They're just thoughtful fun. And now let me give it up to an I Love Music post by Pitchfork's Scott Plagenhoef: "off-kilter, upbeat guitar pop, with--in comparison to their peers--something singular about both their music (e.g. not just the touches of African pop but the willingness to use space and let the songs breathe a bit) and their lyrics (detail-heavy, expressive; too bad they're images of wealth instead of poverty, otherwise they'd be critical manna)." Right on, my brother. A-