Call it an amendment to Godwin's Law: As reviews of Vampire Weekend accumulate, the probability that 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 seventeen days recording in South Africa, cheesing off the U.N. and immersing himself in mbaqanga and mbube rhythms. Meanwhile, Vampire Weekend is 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.
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