Haters be damned, Vampire Weekend continues down the same indie-rock-by-way-of-Paul-Simon’s-Graceland path that defined so much of its first record. Irresistible jittery Afro-pop guitar riffs, bouncy rhythms, and instrumentation like thumb piano help make for the kind of eclecticism the band is known for.
Stylistic fusion sets the tone for much of these songs — frontman Ezra Koening’s nasally yelp is fed through Auto-Tune amid the percolating beats and darting strings of “California English” while samples of M.I.A. and Toots & the Maytals fuse with burping synths on “Diplomat’s Son,” which comes off like Hot Butter taking a stab at dancehall reggae. Mentions of minimalist sculptor Richard Serra and Eighties-era Central American revolutionaries hint at intellectualism, which detractors absurdly claim is the band’s snobbery. Although in fairness, Koening does drift into the cloying zone when he ends up rhyming horchata with Aranciata, Masada, and balaclava amid the thunderous beats of the otherwise intriguing opener “Horchata.”
Far from plundering Third World culture, Vampire Weekend does a stellar job at processing these different aspects of world music from an Anglo perspective, not unlike Simon and Talking Heads before them. (XL Recordings)