Discovery: Revisiting the Vampire Weekend Side Project

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As a self-proclaimed Vampire Weekend addict, the release of Modern Vampires of the City last May is already in the distant past and I am seriously in need of a preppy-infused indie fix.  Rostam Batmanglij, Vampire Weekend keyboardist, collaborated with Ra Ra Riot lead singer, Wesley Miles in 2009 to form Discovery.  This group produced an electronic album entitled LP, a departure from the sound that Vampire Weekend fans know and love.  The side project is a hidden gem that showcases Batmanglij’s many talents.  I decided to revisit this not so recent release as an alternative to “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” and “Step” on repeat and to explore the multi-dimensional music interests that make Vampire Weekend so unique. Discovery’s 9 track LP features both original songs and covers including the Jackson Five classic “I Want You Back”.  This fresh take on an old sound is intriguing and maintains the general melody while incorporating electronic sounds and synthesized vocals.  Ezra Koenig contributes to the album on “Carby”, singing Vampire Weekend style lines like “So where’s the freedom in the disco/ If you’re all alone.”  “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend” approaches sentimentality but the lyrics are lost to the electronic effects.  Without the familiar use of classic songs and well-known featured artists, LP seems to fall flat.

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The general direction of the Discovery project focuses on separating from the typical sounds of Batmanglij’s and Miles’ respective bands.  However, I personally find it difficult to remove myself from thoughts of the clever witticisms that comprise Vampire Weekend’s lyrics.  While meaning is not always explicitly clear for the band’s take on wealth and upper class lifestyle, the presentation of these ideas is thought-provoking and captivating.  LP lacks lyrical themes in exchange for musical experimentation.  While Discovery has attracted a novel audience, the music does not compare to Vampire Weekend’s synthesis of old and new, traditional and modern.