Saturday, January 31, 2009

Vampire Weekend - The Kids Don't Stand A Chance 7"

Side A: 'The Kids Don't Stand A Chance'

This is one of the simplest, most effective songs on the Vampire Weekend self-titled album, which is in itself quite a simple and effective pop record. Sure, this song's got strings on it (like the other best tracks, such as 'M79' and 'Walcott') but they don't come in for a while, and when they do arrive, they're restrained. Originally I thought this song, coming at the end of the record, stood out more from the rest of the album - like a pop-punky Clash track - but now I see it's more of a perfectly pitched, langurous finale.

I'm never really sure what people object to about Vampire Weekend, or what they find irritating about one of 2008's deserved best debuts. Too cloying perhaps, too quirky - for me it's just great indie pop songwriting. 'The Kids Don't Stand A Chance' has more than a good melody and hook; it's the absorbing sense of atmosphere that weaves the sound of Vampire Weekend into my soul - vocal affectations, slow beats and lush Afro-Caribbean guitars with a swirl of faux-Baroque decoration. It works for me, if evidently not for others:

"Baroque-ska!? Like a hellish mix of UB40 and The Left Banke."

Mark Prindle's Micro-Reviews: Hip New Bands That The Kids Dig

'The Kids Don't Stand A Chance' was the Vampire Weekend song I used for my end-of-year mixtape:

The (very) Best of 2008 Pt. 1

Side B: 'The Kids Don't Stand A Chance' (Chromeo Remix)

Ever wondered what Vampire Weekend would sound like in 1983? Despite what Mark Prindle might say, it's not exactly the same; it's this. Blocky, upfront synthesiser beats and New Romantic keyboard side-swipes. That is, until the quietitude and following euphoric ascent, as the entrancing beats give way to more natural snippets of the songs - and then back to - horns?

Stereogum says "It's a fun listen -- syncopation and synths run rampant, the signature guitar line gets a keyboard makeover with some new chord movement in the mix. Sounds like Ezra gave 'em a new vocal melody to work with, too".

It's remarkable how Vampire Weekend have managed to fold some twenty-five years of pop music (twenty-five, or twenty-eight, decades if you want to include Vivaldi) in on itself, making chronology irrelevant. Like the cover picture for the record, a sodium-lit tableau of Risky Businness-esque privilege, or a Janus-faced, empty winter scene. They're a sort of end-of-history pop band, with no groundings in these modern times except for being them. They don't represent a point in time in pop music, but a sweeping together and away of all those points. I'll take this over any indie trend-setters, thanks.


miss helen said...

i feel like this band is something i should really like. and their first single a-punk is ridiculously catchy. but i just don't get into it that much. i do keep going back though. thanks for posting the mix, that was a fun lil' listen.

gabbagabbahey said...

I think it was 'Mansard Roof' and 'A-Punk' that got me into Vampire Weekend.

I fully expected not to like the rest of the album, though.