"Walcott" / Vampire Weekend
Officially, the reason I haven't posted in a week and a half is because I have been snowed under with work and I've been dealing with some medical issues. The real reason? It's just been so damn hard to slot back into life after a week in London. It wasn't just any week in London, either; it was a week of special insider Beatles tours and Kinks experiences that completely turned my head around. Not to mention the media blitz for the new film The Boat That Rocked about 1966 and the phenomenon of Radio Caroline -- a film immersed in all the music I love best -- which opened in the UK five days after I left, but who knows when it'll finally be released in the US? (August 28th, according to the film's website. Bloody hell. In what universe do they imagine that American fans aren't dying to see this movie?) My head was filled with music, all right, but it was all the music I've already written about here. Think of it as a musical cul-de-sac.
Nevertheless, I knew that eventually a song would break through my mental logjam -- and it was this track by Vampire Weekend. I'm pretty sure it got inserted into my brain by the film I Love You, Man --a delight from start to finish, which I highly recommend-- which I know had at least one Vampire Weekend song on the soundtrack, if not this one. (It was "Oxford Comma" and "Campus", if you need to know.) Doesn't matter; once the Vampire Weekend thing gets let out of the gate, it has a way of taking over with me.
Truth to tell, the thing that's stuck in my brain is the hammering keyboard riff that runs through this song; that, and the insinuating refrain "Walcott, / Don't you know that it's insane /Don't you wanna get outta Cape Cod / Outta Cape Cod tonight." The rest of the song is liberally sprinkled with Cape Codian name checks, like "Hyannisport is a ghetto" and "fuck the women from Wellfleet" and "Mystic Seaport is this way." Having spent five glorious summers on Cape Cod (in Osterville, but we drove around everywhere while we were there), this triggers all sorts of knee-jerk responses in me.
The tune -- if you can call it that -- repeats incessantly from one verse to the next, and in the end it's the syncopation more than the melodic line that gives it the hook. (Okay, maybe it's the way the lyrics mesh with the syncopation.) Irrelevant. It's just a fantastic earworm, when you put together that keyboard riff (why does this sound to me like nighttime driving in the rain?) and the coaxing desperation of Ezra Koenig's vocals. Then they throw in a string quartet, and some bashing drums, and I'm sucked in. Sure, it seems dislocated and a bit alienated. What else is indie music about?
Are these guys really this smart, or was the brilliance of this first album just dumb luck?