As far as I can tell, Vampire Weekend’s “Ottoman” — this moment’s catchy song — materialized out of thin air. Where else could it have come from?
“Ottoman” fails to appear on any albums or EPs — not even as a stupid iTunes bonus track — save a spot on the soundtrack for Nick & Nora’s Bogus Journey. (The song played during Nick & Nora’s credits, in what was presumably the film’s only tolerable moment.)
Despite said cinematic debut, “Ottoman” sounds more Wes Anderson than, um, whoever the fuck directed N&N. VW’s Anderson fanship has been evident from the start (Futura, hello), but this song really nails it; I can totally envision “Ottoman” — or at least an instrumental version — complementing a memorable “Let me tell you about my boat” sort of scene.
Is it genuine? A parody? Both? During the song, VW echoes “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” with the chorus-ender “But this feels so unnatural to Peter Gabriel too,” a line that could potentially mean something — or, I don’t know, the band might just be shooting for the Guinness World Record of Peter Gabriel shout outs. That added “to” is admittedly pretty goofy.
If this Gabriel business does possess a larger meaning, however, it might be to remind us of the dangers and/or phoniness inherent in class-hopping. In “Cape Cod” — my first sip of the Vampire Weekend koolaid, by the way — the rich girl feels all Peter-Gabriel-unnatural ditching Louis Vuitton for, um, linens. (Who wouldn’t?) And in “Ottoman,” an over-his-head protagonist realizes that his by-marriage aristocracy is ultimately a sham. Or at least full of perspiration.
Also, these lines—
Elegant clothes, you want to be seen with her
Under your tweeds you sweat like a teenager
—are just fantastic. They paint a whole picture. I want to steal them for a story.