By Steve Weinstein
By Bryan Bierman
By Lindsey Rhoades
By Chaz Kangas
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Jena Ardell
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Katherine Turman
These boys can really play their instruments, but technical ability is not a good enough reason to like a band. VW's music, with its immaculate construction, its high-collared violin solos, its boy's-choir croonery, is claustrophobically orderedthe sound of a band lulling itself into complacency. Whether they are truly bluebloods is beside the point: They embrace and exalt the accoutrements of a privileged Mo' Money/No Problems lifestyle. They transmogrify Jonathan Richman's New Englander fascination into a mutated bourgeois fantasy, fetishizing the parts of Massachusetts that would keep the actual "Massholes" out.
As a pop-culture entry point into the lives of rich and snooty white people, I prefer CWTV's addictive, ridiculous soap opera Gossip Girl, a trashy show whose very existence underscores issues of race and class (Blair Waldorf's Gwen-like "Harajuku Girls"; the absurd fact that Brooklyn loft dwellers are seen as impoverished). Vampire Weekend does the same, but sans the performative self-awareness. They are rightly credited for blending Talking Heads with twee and African-influenced polyrhythms, but they run their influences through a steam-cleanerin sound, in texture, in language, in executionuntil there's nothing left but space and simplicity and precious little conflict. Moreover, their calculatedly highbrow guitar techniquespointedly undistorted; I bet these guys read sheet musicand carefully tousled nice-guy vocals drip so liberally with propriety that their style has, for me, become a resounding philosophical statement, a line in the sand. And because their whole steez is so '80s, I am forced to choose Black Flag and Minor Threat. Impeach Reagan!
And that's the deal: Trust-funded or not, VW's music, lyrically and sonically, emits the putrescent stench of old money, of old politics, of old-guard high society. And I can't get down with that, no matter how many times homeboys drop a Lil Jon reference.