And Vampire Weekend's music IS buttoned-up indie-pop, so stiflingly textbook that you expect to listen to it whilst playing a round of polo during your afternoon tea breaks. The problem is, and this is where it gets sticky with me...it's also adventurous and infectious.
Besides, from what I understand, their Ivy-League background is greatly hyperbolized by the "haters" - sure, they went to Columbia University, and sure, their sartorial sense is informed more by J. Crew than by the funky streetwear one normally associates with a rock band, but apparently they do not all hail from affluent families.
And in the end, of course, it doesn't matter a band's socioeconomic status, but somehow it seemed mightly offending for a bunch of rich white dudes to be co-opting beats from poor African communities (their first two albums incorporated a sound that the band brazenly termed, "Upper West Side Soweto." But from what I understand, Paul Simon also did that...but he seemed more authentic in his attributions...).
But then one must also realize that besides not actually being rich (maybe upper middle class?), half of the band is not ethnically caucasian either. Singer Ezra Koenig is Jewish, and the keyboardist Rostam is Persian. So much for hyped-up mythology!
So now that I have debunked a few of the fairy tales surrounding this band while still acknowledging some of their hypocrisies, let's get to the meat of the matter: the music.
Modern Vampires of the City is a stark departure from the more claustrophobic sonic ethos cultivated on the first two albums. The debut album was brilliant and quirky but limited in sound and scope, while the second album, Contra, was a continuation of those limitations, and still obstinately reveling in the Soweto sounds they seemed so proud to exploit. And Contra, to my ears, was just grating; it showed marginal musical growth, some of the hooks were cloying and annoying rather than pleasantly idiosyncratic like on the first album, and I was ready to write them off. Sure, there were some good songs, but it just seemed like Vampire Weekend were already stagnating in the same ol' style.