We're fascinated with Vampire Weekend. Some of us even obsessed. I think Pitchfork explained it best in their 8.8 review of Vampire Weekend:
People spend a lot of time poking around for the edgy new underground thing, convinced that plain old pop songs have been done to death. But Vampire Weekend come along like Belle & Sebastian and the Strokes each did, sounding refreshingly laidback and uncomplicated, and with simple set-ups that make good songs sound exceedingly easy. The result being not "this is mind-blowing," or "this is catchy," but "I have listened to this, straight through, four times a day for the past month".
In this fast-paced music world, it's hard to fathom that anyone spends a month listening to the same album, when you have all of this shit to listen to. But that's how it was with Vampire Weekend. Their debut was something you could not put down, not for long anyway.
While I never expected a sophomore slump from Vampire Weekend, I was curious, or maybe a little worried about their "sound." Was it too gimmicky to carry out a second LP? Did we want another Vampire Weekend? I'm still not sure how to answer these questions, but what I do know is that Vampire Weekend has surprised me in their willingness to take chances.
Discovery was a gutsy move by Vampire Weekend's Rostam Batmanglij and Ra Ra Riot's Wes Miles. It was unabashed pop with glitches and blips and synths and huge bass-lines galore. It was nothing like Vampire Weekend's orchestral, afro-infused indie-pop.
In retrospect, its easy to see that, while Discovery was an alternate outlet of creativity for the Batmanlij, who handles the organ, chamberlin, piano, harpsichord, guitar, vocal harmonies, drum and synth programming, shaker, producing, string arrangements, engineering, and mixing for Vampire Weekend (for real), it was also his way of testing the waters. Vampire Weekend fans make up most of Discovery's fans (as well as their harshest cynics), after all.
Discovery's warm welcome was something like green light for Rostam Batmanlij. You could see this on Contra's promotional single, "Horchata". It was still wholly Vampire Weekend, but there were some unexpected electronic flourishes found within the song. On "California Enlgish, Pt. 2", the b-side track on the infectious "Cousins" single, Vampire Weekend take it a step further. The entire track is made up of the same 4-second loop, with rays of shining synth and firework percussion seeing the song out. This hardly sounds like Vampire Weekend. It sounds like Ezra Koenig singing over one of the more subdued Animal Collective songs (are even some Animal Collective-esque chants in the background). While "California" is only a b-side, I'm excited to hear more material like this on Contra. "Cousins" is proof that Vampire Weekend are still able to record cheerful, insanely catchy, sunny pop tunes. "California English, Pt. 2" shows us what else they can do.
"Cousins" will be released on 12/15. We are giving some away here.