Music News

Okay, It's Time to Stop Saying Vampire Weekend Sounds Like Afropop (or Graceland)

Vampire Weekend -- the album -- sounded a lot like Graceland, inasmuch as most of us hadn't heard that bright Afropop guitar tone on any other albums in the intervening 20 years, and Ezra Koenig's lyrics were as epigrammatic as Paul Simon's, if in a different way. It wasn't just the guitar, even though it was probably mostly the guitar -- the rhythms, his voice, most everything else on the album sounded foreign, if not actually African. It sounded unfamiliar.

And using "Afropop" as shorthand for that unfamiliarity -- the stuff in Vampire Weekend that wasn't self-consciously Ivy League or more broadly indie-sounding -- turned out to be extremely convenient. It worked for Contra, too, though not as well.

But Modern Vampires of the City came out Tuesday, and the guitars have mostly vanished -- only the other stuff is left. We need to call a moratorium: It's time to stop using "Afropop" when you mean "Vampire Weekend."

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Dan Moore