Vampire Weekend, "Sunflower" (Columbia/Sony)
In contrast to former colleague Eric Grandy, my reaction toward Vampire Weekend has always been a blasé "meh." That's right—they haven't even merited a vehement "meh." (By the way, I give a fuck about an Oxford comma.) I suppose it's better for undiscerning people to like Vampire Weekend than the Chainsmokers or Imagine Dragons, but that's not a high bar to clear. So when Stranger managing editor Leilani Polk mentioned that I might dig the new Vampire Weekend single, "Sunflower," I was skeptical. But given that she knows my tastes, I checked it out. Color me surprised: I enjoy a Vampire Weekend song.
The lead track from the Father of the Bride album (out May 3), "Sunflower" features guest musician Steve Lacy. Initially, I thought it strange that the late jazz saxophonist who influenced John Coltrane was on a pop group's record, but then realized this Steve Lacy is a young guitarist/bassist who's worked with the Internet, Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Mac Miller, Tyler, the Creator, and others.
Young Mr. Lacy and VW mainstay Ezra Koenig conjure a very odd and alluring chord progression for the intro—perhaps a sideways homage to the Grateful Dead's "Dark Star"? Soon the song coalesces into a charming, feathery melodic confection that corkscrews into some movements that wouldn't seem out of place on a prog-rock LP from 1972 (Caravan or Gentle Giant, say). The time signature is far from 4/4 and the vocals flutter and scat into Robert Wyatt or Annette Peacock territory. Damn, I'm kind of flabbergasted by how much I like this.
Vampire Weekend perform Friday, September 27 at WaMu Theater.