Vampire Weekend: Vampire Weekend (2008)

I have to admit, If I'd been asked at the time, I wouldn't have predicted how successful/mainstream-friendly Vampire Weekend would ultimately become.  Their first album certainly didn't suggest a band destined for mass acceptance.  Strange, off-kilter angular guitar music that incorporated some African rhythms a la Paul Simon's Graceland; highbrow lyrics that reeked of New England prep schools.  They were like the Whit Stillman films of indie rock.

But the album somehow worked and they caught on.  And while successive releases have continually broadened their musical and lyrical sophistication, up through this year's fantastic Father Of The Bride (one of my favorite releases of 2019), I still love to spin that somewhat odd and tentative debut record.

The obvious anthem is "A-Punk," one of those songs that is surprisingly refreshing on first listen, hitting you like, ok, I suppose that's another way music can sound. Equally catchy is the eccentric "Oxford Comma," which lays bare Ezra Koenig's novel lyrics that beg you to mock the faux high-mindedness while still sucking you in:  "Who gives a fuck about an Oxford comma? I've seen those English dramas, too. They're cruel."  Ok, fine, a little odd for a pop song, but you certainly can't argue he's relying on tired rock & roll cliches.

The album is pretty tightly packed with winners, probably a better hit ratio than you'd expect for a left-field debut album; beyond those two, you've got the tribal percussion of "Cape Cod Kwaasa Kwaasa," the more straight-forward pop of "Campus," and the rollicking "Walcott."  There are a few weaker tracks on the back end, but the infectious novelty of the approach keeps the album hanging together.

Here's that damn "A-Punk" video:
...and "Oxford Comma."
And here's a live "Campus":