As a new band, would you rather that people hate to love you or love to hate you? Why not both? Vampire Weekend dropped from the sky last year with an infectious, jittery, joyously awkward merger of Ivy League frathouse pop and jaunty African guitar-god rhythm, a mixture they ill-advisedly labeled “Upper West Side Soweto.” They sing (yelp, really) about Cape Cod and dress like they just got back from there. This confuses people. Delights them, too. The band’s debut full-length, Vampire Weekend, finally emerged in January and is wonderful—in fact, as catchy and infectious and wry and breezy as a summer’s day spent doing whatever Upper West Side elites do, wherever they do it. This brew induces strong feelings, though—the Voice itself ran two reviews, one mostly positive, one tremendously negative. Some hail VW as the second coming of the Talking Heads/Feelies/whoever; some dismiss them as colonial douchebags ripping off strident African polyrhythms they could never hope to understand. The former isn’t true, no, but the latter ain’t either. Returning to the album now, carefree and cheery as it is, it’s hard to imagine how it inspired such rancour. Perhaps we all need a trip to Cape Cod.
More from the Voice‘s Best of NYC 2008 here.