Call it an amendment to Godwin's Law: As reviews of Vampire Weekend's self-titled disc accumulate, the probability they'll mention Paul Simon's Graceland approaches 100 percent. It's a lazy game of connect the dots, really. Graceland traces an MOR-shattering pilgrimage wherein Simon spent 17 days recording in South Africa, cheesing off the United Nations and immersing himself in mbaqanga and mbube rhythms. Meanwhile, Vampire Weekend chronicles a pilgrimage to your local record shop . . . to purchase Graceland. But here's why it works: Unlike Simon, the Vampire Weekend lads are A Separate Peace fresh, revealing and reveling in young-adult minutiae. "Campus" raps about "sleeping on the balcony after class." And when they appropriate Congolese soukous in tracks like "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa," they do it with maladroit fumbling. Vampire Weekend's four members never purport to be Afrobeat experts, only enthusiasts, resulting in an album that's loosey-goosey and never vainglorious. Simon once said he recorded Graceland for his generation, which had "stopped listening to music as a means of getting information about the world." In terms of information about the world, Vampire Weekend's generation has reached its saturation point — there's nothing left but re-contextualization now, and Vampire Weekend pulls that off brilliantly.
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