Diane Young, released yesterday as one half of a brand new double A-side from Vampire Weekend, is a blisteringly fun song. It bursts into life like a 100m sprinter who’s jumped the starting pistol, stumbling and falling, hopping over hurdles, spinning and whirring its way with all the determination of a Year Nine desperate to win gold; (which it does, with flying colours). The opening line, ‘You torched a Saab like a pile of leaves’, is typical of the latest output from the band: it’s immediate, striking, idiosyncratic, and a little nihilistic.
Chris Baio’s pumping synthetic bass bumbles beneath guitar squawks, culminating in a guitar solo that sounds like the robot from Short Circuit having a breakdown in a moshpit. Koenig’s vocals are playful and self-aware, owing something to the ‘50s swagger of Elvis Presley or Buddy Holly, spitting out consonant heavy quips like ‘You got the luck of a Kennedy/ So grab the wheel’, and jittering convulsively within the automated soundscape dreamed up by band-mate Rostam Batmanglij.
On the skins drummer Chris Tomson does a stellar job of upping the ante from previous energetic contributions on tracks like Cousins, bundling in an athletic power with relentless snare fills, underscoring the song with boundless abandon. The result is a fun, bouncy, instantaneously listenable song which hints at the quality of the band’s forthcoming album.
The second track, Step, deals with similar themes but in a softer, more heartfelt way, akin to offerings from previous albums such as I Stand Corrected and Taxi Cab. The accompanying video on Youtube draws attention to the self-consciously learned lyricism of the track, in which classical allusions and geographical references are scattered liberally, like a glimpse inside Diderot’s notebook. Ultimately though the references are like a roadmap to the nostalgia of the romance described; they are signposts to memories, and far from being show-offy or pretentious, make the sentiment feel all the more genuine.
The inclusion of piano is a subtle but important development – allowing for a more grounded atmosphere. The bass is refreshingly simple and the vocals are stripped back and honest. The chorus is chanty but holds back from cliché; the sort of refrain that should help the band firmly establish their position at the top end of festival bills: it would suit a Glastonbury crowd nicely.
Words: Francis Blagburn