Hard-twerker, last great gangsta rapper, renewed rock band -- and EW critic's No. 1
Eager, assured young men such as these rarely settle for even unexpected success. But few of them amplify their ambitions as gracefully as Ezra Koenig and his chums do on Vampire Weekend's lovely third album. Easing off their signature moves music borrowed from Africa, lyrics referencing New England they open up and allow some vulnerability into their vibrant, sculpted sound. Now pushing 30, Koenig remains his clean-cut, undaunted self, but with grown-up neuroses creeping in: Upbeat songs like ''Finger Back'' and ''Worship You'' resound with nervous energy, and ''Diane Young'' warps the manic, baby-baby-baby rock sound favored by '50s teens just as pointedly as it puns on ''dyin' young.'' World-music chops, bookworm mentality, old-fashioned diligence all good qualities that benefit from a little breaking in.
Best Track: ''Step''