Review: Vampire Weekend "Modern Vampires of the City"

The quartet of Columbia alumni continues to mature, trading Afrobeat flavors for indie ballads and introspective ’70s-style songwriting.
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The quartet of Columbia alumni continues to mature, trading Afrobeat flavors for indie ballads and introspective ’70s-style songwriting. Chris Baio supports the proceedings with a Rickenbacker 4003 and an Eminence electric upright, bellowing on the melancholic track “Hudson” and bringing his trademark fast plucking, muted style to “Diane Young” and “Finger Back.”

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Vampire Weekend Contra [XL]

The idea of a bunch of upper-middle-class kids from New York City playing grooves rooted in African popular music styles like Congolese soukous and kwassa kwassa might sound anywhere from suspicious to abhorrent, but Vampire Weekend’s earnest indierock take on those genres absolutely works. Down low, Chris Baio plays it cool for much of the band’s sophomore record, but where he does eschew minimalism for chops—like on “Holiday,” a rollercoaster ride of a tune—it’s sublime. “Cousins” is another workout, with bewildering 16thnote flurries that will leave you wondering how the heck he does it. It’s definitely a disc worth checking out.