Thursday, January 28, 2010
Just Another Punk Rock Fantasy
It can be hard to stand in front of the world and talk about your fantasies. This is the deep stuff we're talking here, things that you don't share with anyone. They can be embarrassing, possibly illegal or even worse, painfully banal. And though the world is littered with Savage Love columns in which desperate readers ask how to get their lovers to understand them, I'm going to take a moment here and discuss one of my fantasies.
See, I listened to "Contra" and it's not bad really, not at all, but to me, the story of the album lies in "Cousins" and "Diplomat's Son", two songs that are punk in the same way my co-worker called me that when I carried thirty dollars worth of groceries in my arms instead of a basket. That is, off-the-wall and unexpected. Not to say that "Cousins" has no precedent (see "A-Punk), but it does present itself forthrightly to the point where Ezra Koening is able to spit the line "You've got ten fingers/and you're gonna use'em all" before launching into a guitar solo. That is some Ghostface on "Beat the Clock" confidence right there, just daring you to doubt it and be wrong.
Anyway, on to the fantasy: Whenever I hear "Cousins" I think the same thing: How awesome it would be if Vampire Weekend took a break from being critically lauded and fawned over worldwide and hide out under another name playing twitchy punk music. Looking at me or the screen like this is crazy will not accomplish anything, especially since there's a precedent for this. Anyone remember Quasar? No, of course you don't, because the odds are you were like ten when the Beastie Boys pulled that awesome stunt. Still, that doesn't mean it hasn't happened before, so maybe it can happen again.
This leaves us with "Diplomat's Son", which, with it's strings, tropics conjuring beat and six minute length seems anything but hard. On it's face, even I think I'm kind of crazy for calling the song punk, but just hear me out. Everything that goes into it is a two-fisted flip of the bird, a glorious six minute "Fuck you" from the band to its critics that won't stop harping on the whole "rich kids playing syncopated rhythms" thing. The band didn't necessarily mean it to be that, but from the M.I.A sample to the "Pressure Drop" breakdown on a Casio keyboard (which adds the jab of being a nostalgic/ironic callback to our toys of yore) of all things to the lyrics about living the good life on an island paradise thanks to a friend with political functionary parents, they take their perceived weaknesses and just like on "Cousins" dare you to call them wrong. Now if that isn't punk, what is?
(Video courtesy of Stereogum)