I don’t personally know these people, but I’m going to go ahead and assume that they’re a bunch of rich kids with their Lacoste shirts and their televised lives and their delicious, delicious cocaine. They sure sound like it, with their clean guitars and their African influences and their preppy girlfriends that I can only talk to if I’m badmouthing someone else and their Upper West Sides. But the joy (ah the joy!) the joy is listening to this album is that it makes you feel like you, too, are a preppy Columbia upper classman (or woman) sitting on a balcony that overlooks Central Park, sipping something delicious and ruminating on how many beautiful people you might sleep with this summer. Lead singer Ezra Koenig’s the main fault here, but I’m blaming you too, band of sea horses.
Which all makes it a little upsetting that it’s fucking fantastic. Every song on here is memorably fantastic; it makes you feel like a well-intentioned rich kid too! It’s all based on four-piece pop music, but with an array of influences you don’t normally hear (chamber music, afro-pop, reggae), but with the influences subsumed into the whole of every song so that it never sounds like you’re listening to those inferior genres.
Every song is a lighthearted but sharp-edged take on something interesting, and every song has at least eight billion interesting musical hooks, none of which will annoy you, Hungry Eyes-esque, but all of which will make you smile forever. A few songs are unorthodox but most of them make sounding interesting like the easiest thing in the world. It isn’t, of course, and this would be a terrible album to listen to in anger, but I’m pretty sure it was the album of the last few summers. Lead singer Ezra Koenig knows all and sees all and makes all feel happy and bright.
I’m particularly partial to: “Oxford Comma,” for being English-lit cognizant, how Ezra phrases the gently alliterative line “All your diction / Dripping with disdain,” featuring the greatest who-gives-a-shit guitar solo ever, referencing Lil’ Jon, and basically picking on a significant other, “A-Punk” for not being punk at all but featuring the catchiest, bounciest riff this side of a fast-paced trampoline, “Cape Kod Kwassa Kwassa” for having a legitimately West-African sounding hook (says my African friend – a Kwassa Kwassa is some sort of songity thing) and being a classic “To His Coy Mistress”-y seduction tune that opens with “As a young girl / Louis Vuitton,” affair-between-prof-and-stu “Campus” that features the memorable line “Spilled kefir on your keffiyah” and a chorus that I’m sure will background several jillion doe-eyed college hookups, the weird “One (Blake’s Got A New Face)” that has weird screeching high notes during the chorus but STILL sounds offhand and friendly (and ends with “Oh, your collegiate grief has left you dowdy in sweatshirts / Absolute horror!”), confidently apologetic “I Stand Corrected,” and lets-pile-charming-arpeggios-y “The Kids Don’t Stand A Chance,” which is actually better before they stack all those arpeggios and I JUST TALKED OUT TWO THIRDS OF THE ALBUM AGGH.
Except for the uninteresting bonus track “Arrows,” but that’s not important.