With the exception of Dirty Projectors, there’s really no more distinct-sounding band out today than Vampire Weekend. No matter your level of music literacy, you know a VW song when you hear it. That patented Afro-pop-meets-indie-rock sound has turned the New York quartet into mainstays on festival bills and dorm room playlists alike. Five years removed from their infectious debut, the band is clearly out to break from their novelty status. Mission accomplished. Their third release is a quintessential mature album, which is to say slower, tamer, prettier, and more labored over. But the mature look isn’t a bad one. After all, this is a band that can’t plug in their amps without coming up with an earworm. Nothing may reproduce the sugar rush of “A-Punk” or “White Sky.” But they've also never written anything as delicately beautiful as “Obvious Bicycle,” as brilliantly arranged as “The Unbelievers,” or as alluringly quirky as “Worship You.” The albumhas its issues, primarily in its keenness for cheesy synths and distracting vocal processing. But these are growing pains for a band that shows itself as more than capable of progressing without losing its touch.
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