Vampire Weekend’s debut album was the soundtrack to my 2008, and reminds me of the city I currently call home as well as the city I called home at the time.
A former co-worker of mine, Caroline Beck, went to Columbia with the Vampire Weekend guys and was raving about this album well before it was released. We worked together for a solid year and literally all I remember her talking about was Vampire Weekend. Almost made me hate them before I heard a word of their album. Glad that didn’t stick.
Four months into the year, I was transplanted from New York (Jersey City, actually) into Boston. I barely knew anyone, and it was the first time I’d lived out of the tri-state area since I was 11. Weird times for a number of reasons. VW’s album was omnipresent that summer. It played at all the parties I went to (which were mostly of the campus or post-grad variety, never mind that I was already 31-32). It played at all of the radio station functions I went to as part of my job (most of which were related to the dearly departed WFNX), and it played a hell of a lot on my iPod, which was my constant companion as I discovered a brand new city for the first time in my adult life. Given how I feel about Kanye or Amy Winehouse on any given day, “Vampire Weekend” is not only my favorite album of its release year, its my favorite album of the entire damn decade.
Some of the too-cool-for-school types shit on Vampire Weekend, especially the band’s first album. “Sounds too much like Paul Simon’s ‘Graceland’”, they sniff. Well, first of all, good for them that they at least picked a great album to rip off. Sure, there are parts that sound a bit like “Graceland”. There are also parts that sound like The Mighty Sparrow (I’m betting Ezra and Rostam were listening to a lot of soca). The songwriting is way cheekier than anything Paul Simon (IMO the second greatest lyricist in modern American music history) is capable of coming up with.
At any rate, “A-Punk” is an efficient (2:18) blast of fun, powered by Ezra Koenig’s breathless delivery and dense lyrics that manage to cram in references to Washington Heights, Sloan-Kettering Hospital and the Hudson River.
I karaoke-ed this once. Not easy. And I don’t think anyone else in the room knew the song. Womp womp.