After listening to the copy of Vampire Weekend's debut EP that my friend Mike Powell had posted about 10 months ago (!), I thought it was okay: noted the sparkly guitars, the vocalist whose slight lisp and high pitch reminded of what's-his-name from Third Eye Blind, and, right, the Peter Gabriel reference. I got the album a few days ago and, although I should know better in this quick turnover listen-and-respond age, am baffled by the disjunction between its achievement and the opprobrium it's already generated ("I bet these guys read sheet music" is the stupidest criticism I've read in years). Vampire Weekend is as good as it's supposed to be and not one note more, an album by four smart guys tentative about everything -- women, Peter Gabriel, Benetton, college professors -- except their milieu, which you wouldn't know about if you didn't pay attention to their lyrics or the chatter of the gossiping classes*. If rock history teaches us anything, it's that a sense of geography may deepen into a sense of self: Vampire Weekend will figure out who they are when they've studied where they are. In a sense, I'm glad I'm not more enthusiastic about Vampire Weekend, and am doubly grateful that I don't live anywhere near New York.
Finally, the much-vaunted Graceland comparisons are rubbish; Ezra Koenig's writing is too spare -- malnourished? -- to sustain them. A good thing too -- it took years for the bloom of Paul Simon's heavily breathed Garfunkel poesy to fade into something you can slip between the pages of your family Bible, and "I Know What I Know" is too clever about its self-deprecation.
* of which I'm a member.