If Vampire Weekend stay at the top of their game, they both offend the world and make it dance. They will spin African music with upper class white sensibilities. They will inspire pejorative buzzwords from critics like “Harvardcore” and “Sandalstep” while receiving plaudits from others. If we're lucky, they won't fuck with this formula, and new songs “Diane Young” and “Step” indicate that the recipe is intact.
Let's start with “Step,” perhaps most likely to rankle critics. The beat is classic four-on-the-floor, Ezra Koenig is sing-rapping, and on the chorus, in a joint act of shade-casting and classic VW, a harpsichord comes in, taking the tune even further from the boroughs shown in the video than Ezra's stream-of-consciousness geographical name-dropping. But there's truth in the apparent nonsense, an urge to realize the futility of control while keeping the faith.
Drawn from digitally mangled surf rock and sugar-high Buddy Holly, “Diane Young” is perhaps less politically engaging, but that doesn't mean there's no experimentation. Big brassy horns lead for a long time, while machine gun drums sprout up like rashes. But when the guitar does come in, it's like watching a stuntman spin out in mid-air then land perfectly. This is Vampire Weekend taking the parts of their North American influences - the ones that cause your parents to perk up when “Cousins” comes on - and making them weirder than ever. It pops like melted vinyl from the Happy Days jukebox.
The band's new album is out May 6th via XL Recordings.