From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel


And I'm Melissa Block.

(Soundbite of song, "Cousins")

BLOCK: This is a song called "Cousins" off the new album from the band Vampire Weekend.

(Soundbite of song, "Cousins")

VAMPIRE WEEKEND (Band): (Singing) You found a sweater on the ocean floor. They're gonna find it if you didn't close the door. You and this model sit outside the side. And in a house on a street they wouldn't park on the night.

BLOCK: Vampire Weekend had a meteoric rise to fame two years ago with its first album. Our reviewer Will Hermes has been anticipating the second album, along with a lot of critics and fans.

(Soundbite of song, "Cousins")

WILL HERMES: Vampire Weekend's popularity synched up with a bunch of trends: rock bands influenced by world music, rock bands that dress like preppies and pop culture phenomena connected in some way to vampires.

They suffered some backlash in the wake of their instant popularity, but that struck me as sour grapes. These guys deserved their popularity. Their fusions were smart and self-aware, and they wrote great songs. For their latest, they just wrote some more.

(Soundbite of song, "Horchata")

VAMPIRE WEEKEND: (Singing) In December drinking horchata. I'd look psychotic in a balaclava. Winter's cold is too much to handle. Pincher crabs that pinch at your sandals.

HERMES: I was encouraged Vampire Weekend didn't mess with their style too much. They're still blending catchy Caucasian pop rock with Bollywood disco or African chimurenga like a Banana Republic mix tape. And on occasion, they still sound like Graceland-era Paul Simon, which as far as I'm concerned is a perfectly excellent thing to sound like on occasion.

But they've also added some cool electronic colors to the mix, like this song where they use the familiar voice processing software AutoTune in an unfamiliar way: with chamber music accompaniment.

(Soundbite of song, "California English")

VAMPIRE WEEKEND: (Singing) Sweet carob rice cake she don't care how the sweets taste. Fake Philly cheese steak but she use real toothpaste. 'Cause if that Tom's don't work, if it just makes you worse, would you lose all of your faith in the good earth? And if it's all a curse and we're just getting worse, baby, please don't lose your faith in the good earth.

HERMES: Singer Ezra Koenig likes wordplay and brand name details, and he portrays American upper crusters like an indie rock F. Scott Fitzgerald: There's the guy dreaming up plans for his girlfriend's trust fund and another who gets stoned and falls into bed with a friend who happens to be the son of a diplomat.

(Soundbite of song, "Diplomat's son")

VAMPIRE WEEKEND: (Singing) He was a diplomat's son. It was '81. He was a diplomat's son. It was '81.

HERMES: Sometimes, there's a blankness to the voices in Vampire Weekend songs that's more Bret Easton Ellis than F. Scott Fitzgerald. But "Contra" does broaden the band's emotional scope. Besides ennui and bafflement, there's palpable heartbreak too. The sounds are generally so happy, though, most people won't notice the lyrical bummers. It seems like useful music for this new decade. It's not ignoring the bad stuff; it just wants to dance while it figures things out.

(Soundbite of song, "White Sky")

BLOCK: Our reviewer is Will Hermes. The new album from Vampire Weekend is called "Contra." And you can listen to the entire album at

(Soundbite of song, "White Sky")

VAMPIRE WEEKEND: (Singing) The nation business, a modern piece of glasswork down on the corner that you walk each day in passing. The elderly salesclerk won't eye us with suspicion. The whole immoral corporation's giving its permission.

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