Vampire Weekend never seemed built to last; neither its prep-school visual aesthetic nor its African-tinged pop suggested longevity. But five years after Vampire Weekend debuted, “Oxford Comma,” “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa,” and “A-Punk” sound not just as good as they did then, but better. 2010’s Contra offered more of the same, in good ways and bad, and now the boldly (or is it just badly?) named Modern Vampires Of The City—“very much the last of a trilogy,” according to frontman Ezra Koenig—arrives to put it all in perspective. Anyone hoping that the winsome, cocky, popular boy would grow into a fat, balding man will be disappointed. Instead, he’s turned out handsome, thoughtful, and sophisticated.
Unlike its two predecessors, which burned hot but only in spots, Modern Vampires feels like a rare thought-through album in the iTunes age. (That didn’t stop the band from releasing dribs and drabs piecemeal over the past few weeks, but that seems to be a fact of modern music-making now.) Its best songs are its slow jams, but every minute feels part of a larger whole rather than just a smattering of hits fleshed out for the sake of fleshing. It’s a pleasant surprise that begins cautiously, with the wistful “Obvious Bicycle,” a ballad that nods more toward The Kinks or pre-disco Bee Gees than Paul Simon, setting the layered tone for the rest of the record. as a capstone to what it’s done so far, Modern Vampires Of The City feels pretty perfect. — The A.V. Club