From Vampire Weekend, World Music with a Bite

Fresh Air's rock critic reviews the self-titled debut album from Vampire Weekend. The band's music is a mix of dance-able American indie-rock, classical music and South African traditional music.

Everyone Wants a Bite of Vampire Weekend

Vampire Weekend

hide captionVampire Weekend is, from left to right, Rostam Batmanglij, Ezra Koenig, Chris Baio, and Christopher Tomson

Tim Soter

The music on Vampire Weekend's self-titled debut sounds open, clean, and presentable. The pop hooks are readily apparent, and the songs are well-produced. Though some have issues with the rampant similarities to Paul Simon's Graceland, others call it "just about the cutest music I've ever heard."

Ezra Koenig, Rostam Batmanglij, Christopher Tomson, and Chris Baio met while students at Columbia University, and the songs are full of references to New York City. The band's members seem to function with their ears wide open. "When you get in a cab and you hear bachata... you say, like, 'We gotta make a bachata song,'" keyboard player and producer Batmanglij says, referring to the Dominican love songs.

Vampire Weekend's time in New York has also been spent performing and making friends with influential musicians like David Longstreth of The Dirty Projectors, whom they call "one of the most inspiring musicians alive."

Although Vampire Weekend's members received high praise from the mainstream media and the blogosphere, they've also been subject to pointed criticism. The band seems to have been prepared for the onslaught, saying it's impossible to avoid a backlash in the long run. "Growing up listening to rap music, you almost feel like you should have haters," says lead guitarist and singer Koenig. "That's an important part of being a successful musician. It's a good thing, I guess."

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