Saturday, October 15, 2016

V Is For...

26 artists, A to Z.

Vampire Weekend / "Unbelievers"

I dig these kids. I'm sad that they're currently on hiatus, now that multi-instrumental whiz Bastam Batmanglij has left to pursue solo projects (though he says he's still going to collaborate on the songwriting.) While we await new material, here's a gem from their third album, 2013's Modern Vampires of the City.

There's such a great pop groove underlying this track, the tempo ticking along, the arrangement bright and major key upbeat. Yes, it's a disquisition on religious faith (c'mon, Vampire Weekend met at Columbia University; let's just assume they have done their homework), but it's also a celebration of being open-minded and curious. While it rejects dogma -- "Girl, you and I will die unbelievers / Bound to the tracks of the train" -- it also acknowledges the need for something, because "The world is a cold, cold place to be."

Like most of his generation, the singer -- who is and isn't frontman Ezra Koenig -- is not 100% convinced: "If I'm born again [such a loaded term] / I know that the world will disagree / Want a little grace, but who's gonna say a little grace for me." In point of fact he's longing for a taste of redemption: "What holy water contains a little drop, little drop for me?"

Well, we all have our paths to forge. I myself am a committed Christian, and I detect a hunger here for something transcendent, something that will make sense of the whole shebang. At the same time, I can sympathize with the singer's skepticism: "Is this the fate that half of the world has planned for me?" As Ezra explained in an interview with NME: "It doesn't matter how fervently you believe in your faith, there's always going to be another faith that calls you an unbeliever." You're literally damned if you do and damned if you don't.

And in our multi-cultural world, it just could be the unbelievers that have the key to it all.

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