Monday, June 3, 2013

"Ya Hey"

It's  got all the standard Vampire Weekend tricks--catchy hook, drums mixed high, classical piano bouncing in and out, staccato guitar, plus the choir and autotune that suggest that band has a higher budget this time around, or at least that they're going for a slicker sound. The drums sound big & dumb & expensive (compare the sound of, say, "The Kids Don't Stand a Chance"), but that opening bassline makes me forgive it.

At RapGenius one can read that the song references reggae, Catholic ritual, the word "yahweh" ("the name of the Jewish God," although Christians would presumably argue he's theirs too), Outkast's song "Hey Yah," the story of  Moses & the burning bush, Richard Hofstadter. (Also: that Ezra Koenig is a fan of RapGenius.)

What's really striking, though, is that in this seemingly serious song you've got the chorus broken up by this ridiculous vocal effect, which is speaking a scrambled version of this word (the tetragrammaton) which religiously observant Jews are prohibited from saying. & one could no doubt pull this into a theory about the song's inner tensions et cet. but really why bother (although if one did, probably also worth looking at the line about the dj mixing reggae & the Rolling Stones)? What the chorus really makes clear is that Vampire Weekend are making fun of themselves, dropping silly sounds into their "serious song. It's the same impulse that makes the hook of another of their singles nothing more than "baby baby baby." The sound of a band refusing to "grow up" for their "mature" 3rd album--noting, "it's bad enough just getting old."

So that's why the album's alright, basically, not as strong as the debut but y'know. & of course Discovery was their best, but I digress.

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