Modern Vampires of the City
New York four-piece Vampire Weekend has, thankfully, always ignored the fussy traditionalists and simply listened to and used whatever sounds they damn well please—Afro-pop, classical, reggae, ska, synth pop, electronic, indie rock—when making their refreshing brand of pop rock. And they’ve once again proven on this, their third album, to be one of the few contemporary bands able to make something completely new with the sounds they borrow. Overall, the hooks are maybe slightly less unique than on their previous two albums (time will tell), but the band’s focus is sharper and its delivery stronger than ever. It took exactly one listen to frenetic lead-single “Diane Young” to be completely won over by the hyperactive track that threatened to send me into a full sprint with the urgency suggested by the title’s double meaning (say it fast). Every song has something uniquely rich to offer. The baroque, spooky chamber-popness of “Step”; the Afro-bouncy rhythm and weirdly effective crying background vocals on “Ya Hey”; and the handful of subtly layered slow-burning numbers: “Don’t Lie,” “Hannah Hunt,” and the gorgeous, sobering opener, “Obvious Bicycle” (“Oh, you oughta spare your face the razor/ Because no one’s gonna spare the time for you”). As fun as VW has been to follow, it’s exciting to think that the best might be yet to come.