Admittedly, I'm not quite sure what "a-punk" is. A perfunctory internet inventory turns up nothing, so I can only assume that Vampire Weekend's "A-Punk" describes a sort of manifesto, the blue-print for a new--or lost--vein of punk rock. Over cloying guitars and and a spring heeled beat, Ezra Koenig crafts a ballad of sorts, a pastiche of northeastern, southwestern, and medieval imagery loosely centered around a silver ring.
Faced with this unsettling menagerie of characters and settings, the direction duo of Hammer & Tongs generally forsakes plot in the making of the video for "A-Punk." How better to deal visually with the enigmatic output of a band than to feature the band itself in a sort of psychological portrait? Where the video for "Mansard Roof" takes place at sea, "A-Punk" is set in on some remote slab of Tarmac under blank sky. The stop-motion production lends a primitive and childish quality to the group; while two lads beat erratically on freestanding drums, the guitarists jerk back and forth like puppets.
The setting shifts at the first chorus to a tableau of fake snow and and wool-wrapped Weekenders. A Christmasy organ surfaces followed by classical arpeggio. "A-Punk" reaches its punk-potential where the sweetness of Bach gives way to the sleaze of bacchanalia: as drums pick back up, Koenig looses his best "'ey, 'ey, 'ey, 'ey!" and the guitars buy back in. The final chorus finds our balladeer in the charming life aquatic, a set more faux-primitive than a Wes Anderson wet-dream (pun intended). Somewhere in the delusions and hysterics of this video lies the paradigm for "a-punk" and enough dream content to make Freud slaver.
Vampire Weekend's self-titled debut comes out on January 29 via XL Recordings.