There’s always a moment for fervent music followers and artists where they begin to tire of certain genres and scenes. They believe all complex possibilities have been explored and that nothing new can be created. That word new is a tricky thing. Music is not created in a vacuum and people’s enjoyment of it depends greatly on certain expectations that have been pre-conditioned in them. So, the struggle of an artist to be new and remain grounded in a tradition while not being outright derivative begins. This struggle leads to identity crisis within artists and sometimes intense cynicism from critics about the future of certain kinds of music. After reaching a certain level of convoluted trickiness to squeeze out whatever new statement they can, it is sometimes easy for a band to fall into the belief that everything that can be done, has been done. Every once in awhile though, a band comes around with something so radically simple that, in the atmosphere of the elaborate contrivances of their contemporaries, seems so bold.
When Vampire Weekend released their self-titled debut in 2008 it was shockingly refreshing. Their innovative West-African infused indie-rock was the kind of music that tore away the cynical guard of critics and made a thousand bands say, why didn’t I think of that? Unfortunately, their tricks, became commonplace rather quickly as bands sought to imitate their style. The novelty quickly wore off and became a sort of second-rate trend. In 2010 they followed up with Contra and blew everyone away again. They escaped the pattern set for them by maintaining their distinct sound, which had been subject to copy and paste bands all over the country, and improving upon it, adding electronic elements and strengthening their already poignant songwriting.
Here we are, three years after Contra, some of us maybe expecting Vampire Weekend’s luck to run out, but with “Ya Hey”, their second single from their upcoming album Modern Vampires of the City, they assure us, that it is not luck. Ezra Koenig’s melodies are just as good as ever and their baroque-pop leanings are still present, but the odd pitch shifted vocals add a startling freshness to their signature sound. They squeeze so many clever innovations into this one track, you think maybe they shouldn’t use all their tricks at once, but they’ve assured us several times before that when you think all their tricks are spent, they’re still able to advance their sound and create something that sounds, dare I say, new.
Vampire Weekend – “Ya Hey”