Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Did You Say Popular?

Simon Reynolds on Vampire Weekend, who at this point are maybe in a phase of Backlash Backlash Backlash Backlash? (Call it dialectical careerism.) I especially like this:

Given the nature of modern media and our crazed archival culture, it's obvious that no halfway sentient band can come into being without premeditation, the meticulous marshalling and coordination of influences and reference points. Knowingness irretrievably entered the water table long ago, and Vampire Weekend simply take this foundation of modern music — the impossibility of not overthinking things, of not riddling your work with footnotes and hyperlinks — and push through to full-blown conceptualism … Pressed to distill that merger's essence to a phrase, I'd offer "form & formality."

And I'm a little uncomfortable about, but basically agree with, this:

They've merely outed the truth of indie, which was never really The People's Music for all its affected sloppiness and "beautiful loser" tropes, instead always much more of an upper-middle-class milieu, the kids recoiling from the commercial and mass-produced just like their parents did via artisanal foodstuffs and antiques.

But I really don't know about this:

How righteous that 2008 should have started with some literally African-American music to herald the election of a literally African-American president. Funny, too, how all the attributes that describe (and, in some eyes, condemn) the band — cultivated and cosmopolitan, calm and collected, cautious and clean-cut — apply so amply to Obama. It's as if history had twisted its way around to arrive at a place where the virtues in our polity are also the virtues in our pop music. Unlike sax addict Bill C. or faux-populist George W., our new prez doesn't have a rock 'n' roll bone in his body, and neither do Vampire Weekend. This year's best, their album is not Gossip Girl set to music, but a soundtrack for the liberal elite taking over.