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The simplest way to describe Vampire Weekend is indie rock with an afro-pop rhythm section and esoteric lyrics that test the limits of words you can use in contemporary music. Formed when the band members were classmates at Columbia University, they are led by vocalist and guitarist Ezra Koenig, of Jewish background, and keyboardist Rostam Batmanglij, of Iranian background, with Chris Tomson on drums and Chris Baio on bass.

Their first two albums dealt with their experiences and emerging identities as upper-middle class college graduates. On this third album, they go further in exploring identity, especially the connections between religious belief and how it helps define who we are. They do this most overtly with song titles like “Everlasting Arms” and “Worship You.” On “Unbelievers,” which takes on a skeptic’s tone, Ezra sings, “If I’m born again I know that the world will disagree / Want a little grace / but who’s going to say a little grace for me?”

It probably isn’t a surprise that this music is most popular with 20-somethings who are asking big questions about identity, faith, and life. Asking these questions has rarely sounded this beautiful. (XL Recordings)

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