Album: Vampire Weekend, Modern Vampires of the City (XL)


The third album by Vampire Weekend is, by some distance, their most outwardly straightforward.

Unlike their self-titled debut, there's no dicking around with pseudo-African rhythms. And unlike its follow-up Contra, there's precious little electrickery (save for some speeded-up chipmunk or slowed-down bassman vocals).

Perhaps coincidentally, and perhaps not, it also happens to be their most cohesive and convincing effort yet. Dominated by the sort of radio-friendly, skinny-tie new wave pop-rock sound that wouldn't feel out of place on an album by Billy Joel or the Cars from 1981, it's an album haunted by time. In one breath Ezra Koenig is sentimentally nostalgic about childhood days ("asleep on the floor of our high school gym"), in the next he's casting a fearful eye to the ageing process ("Nobody knows what the future holds and it's bad enough just getting old", or "Does it bother you, the low click of a ticking clock?").

Highlights are the cryptic, faintly menacing "Hudson" ("All you who change your stripes can rub me in the fly"), the elegiac and existential "Hannah Hunt", and the absurdly catchy single "Diane Young". It's amazing what you can achieve when you stop messing about.