In the Post #105: Vampire Weekend return with new tracks ‘Diane Young’ and ‘Step’

By on Thursday, 25th April 2013 at 12:00 pm
 

Words by Jordy Fujiwara

It’s been more than three years since the album ‘Contra’ was released, so it’s understandable that Vampire Weekend would look to build some considerable hype for the upcoming ‘Modern Vampires of the City’ album, due out the 13th of May on XL Recordings.

In addition to a partnership with VEVO, YouTube, American Express and, serendipitously enough, actor Steve Buscemi, the band has circulated two very interesting songs online. ‘Diane Young’ and ‘Step’ were uploaded to YouTube on the same day, enjoying almost exactly the same amount of views to date – about 1.4 million each. Both tracks are excellent in their own right, but what I find the most intriguing is how they are such polar opposites in many respects. So much so that I can’t help but assume the boys chose to preview these two for a reason. The videos are down below, but let’s talk about them first.

‘Diane Young’ is a very punchy, driving song that dives right in and doesn’t really slow down. It’s loud and unapologetic with interjecting ‘Miserlou’-style riffs and a thrashy-crashy reverb-laden percussion. ‘Step’ on the other hand has patient pace. The keys and a calm bass lead the melody. The song feels like it unfurls musically, as the octaves build soothingly through Ezra Koenig’s passionate delivery.

Lyrically, I feel like ‘Diane Young’ is much more straightforward (well, for Vampire Weekend at least). The verses are nice, structured AABBs. The bridge and hook are simple and catchy (“baby baby baby!”); you can get into this song without having to really grasp the depth of the story itself. That said, it is interesting to interpret Diane Young as “dying young” and explore the hints in the words that speak to death and living in or for the moment.

‘Step’ takes a different approach. It is a very rich, lyrical song, chalk full of references, little allegories and clever phrasings like, “I just ignored all the details of a past life / stale conversation deserves but a butter knife”. The verses are much less structured than ‘Diane Young’, flowing more like poetry and relying on Koenig’s timing and meter to complement the music. Each line reads like a profound revelation, and you find yourself really trying to figure out what it might mean – for yourself, for life, for love… in other words this song makes you think. (If you want to really tear apart the lyrical meanings for either song, I suggest you head over to rapgenius.com and search for these tracks there – folks have put a lot of time and energy going through them both almost line by line.)

Finally, the videos. If the little analysis above doesn’t cement the idea that these two pieces aren’t just different, but almost diametrically opposed, then the videos will. ‘Diane Young’ is shot in rich colour – ‘Step’ is black and white. ‘Diane…’ barely cuts at all; it just recycles the same few seconds of slow-mo video; ‘Step’ cuts at practically every measure and is shot at regular speed. The video for ‘Diane Young’ is blatantly tied to the first line (“you torched a Saab like a pile of leaves”)’ ‘Step’s use of everyday scenes from New York is clearly not as overt, though the city is mentioned in the song and, of course, the band is from NYC. And glaringly, ‘Diane Young’ is not a lyrics video, where Step seems like it was almost built with karaoke in mind, which speaks to which song was felt to have more lyrical presence.

With all that in mind, have a look for yourself at the video below if you haven’t already. Can you spot any more differences? Together, they’re billed as a double A- single, and I think they make a lovely, complementary pair. If they represent two ends of the range of songs we’re to expect with ‘Modern Vampires of the City’, it’ll be a triumph of an album for these young and burgeoning artists.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mX46e4GtlXM[/youtube]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_mDxcDjg9P4[/youtube]

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One Response

12:39 pm
25th April 2013

@tgtf @vampireweekend what a top name!

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