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I’ve heard so many good reports of Vampire Weekend’s new record that I was literally chomping at the bit to hear it. All of which evaporated in a tick at limp opener ‘Obvious Bicycle’...have I even put the correct CD in the tray? It’s a really dull plodder so I’m off to track two, ‘Unbelievers’. From what I’d read I was expecting something a little crazy, a little Animal Collective maybe, yet ‘Unbelievers’, despite being much more upbeat that the moribund opener, I’m finding completely uninspiring. A Paul Simon B-side, nothing more.
‘Step’ is a little better, a strong (if ripped entirely from The Farm’s ‘All Together Now’) melody and some twisty, wordy, clever vocals that never quite reach a climax but drift about happily anywhere. ‘Diane Young’ has the production skills I was expecting and is much more like how a modern vibrant band should sound with some crazed drums and squelchy synth work. ‘Don’t Lie’ appears to do nothing at first yet there is something in the bouncy, bounding puppy of a chorus that suggests I may like it in two or three plays.
I’m old and wizened enough not to dismiss this album completely out of hand. The hype suggested it was going to be something really special (and it might still be given repeated listens) but over the course of the first half of the record what we have here is your standard indie rock template with the odd Afro beat here and there, VERY straight-laced, accomplished and polished yet lacking bite. However, as I write those words on comes ‘Finger Back’ which is EXACTLY what I was expecting, a madcap vocal, fizzy synths and a sense of mischief which continues into ‘Worship You’ with its breathless delivery and pomp rock chorus. The album seems to take more chances as it wears on and is increasingly all the better for it. File under either: a) don’t believe the hype or b) a grower. Only time will tell.
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