Artist – Vampire Weekend
Album – Contra
Year – 2010
Genre – Alternative Rock
Vampire Weekend had always been a hit or miss band for me. This group, which had captured the hearts of the college youth around the country, had always baffled me, or maybe I just seem to get it. They had some good hit songs that I enjoyed, but I never really took the time to go any deeper than that. That was, until a good friend of mine (from college ironically enough) told me to look up this song. As soon as I heard it, I was hooked on it. I delved deeper into the band’s catalog and found some more great songs that I otherwise would not have noticed. What Ezra Koenig and Co. have done is they’ve channeled the sound of Paul Simon and his penchant for African influenced folk rock and put it into modern contexts that many younger kids, like myself, can get behind and have a great time listening to. The band certainly can appeal to an older audience as well, as Koenig really sounds like a young Simon in his prime. “Run” in itself is a great, catchy song whose music is hooky as anything, and whose exuberance is refreshing and a great nod its influences. It’s a great song that parallels modern living in America with Koenig’s (and Simon’s) observations about the the outside world.
The galloping synth and guitar that begins the song is the foundation that holds the whole song together, and it also happens to be the best part of the song. As Koenig’s gentle voice flows over the top of tribal drums, the song quickly transitions from verse to chorus. The backing synth rise that appears during each chorus is so damn catchy, you’ll be thinking about it days later. Koenig’s melody during the chorus isn’t too shabby either, and both vocal and instrumental parts complement each other perfectly. The synth really takes center stage throughout the song with a multitude of different sounds and textures that the band plays with.
The bridge of the song is sharp and fun, and as the drums and synth pick up for one last chorus, there’s even more layering and a differentiation in the backing pattern, and the bridge is repeated with some of those wonderful trumpet sounds that really give it an ethnic quality that harkens back to Simon’s music. Speaking of that…
The lyrics in this song are about escape, both from a love perspective and a domestic perspective. The real Paul Simon influence comes in the second verse, where he speaks of a land “where a little condensation means so much.” It seems to be referring to Africa, but I’m basing this on the band’s own Afro-rock influences. Still, the whole song and it’s lyrics sound like they came off a futuristic version of Graceland, which I think is really cool. It’s a song that just hypnotizes you from beginning to end, and one that knows its own dual message. This is a band I’ll continue to explore in the future, but “Run” has showed me why the kids like this band. I’m beginning to see the magic in it too.
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