Exclaim!'s Best of 2013: Top 20 Pop & Rock Albums, Part Two

4. Vampire Weekend
Modern Vampires of the City

There was nothing wrong with Vampire Weekend's first two LPs, and they could've continued to coast by as the one "indie" band on every college kid's iPod. Rather than turn in the same record, however, Ezra Koenig and co. went for broke.

After allegedly scrapping a full recorded album and starting from scratch, the band took enormous risks with Modern Vampires of the City, and reaped enormous benefits. Regal harpsichords, childrens choirs, bizarre arrangements and spoken word parts are among the many bells and whistles here, and the result is pure magic. Singles like "Step" and "Ya Hey" are immaculately crafted strokes of genius, and they're surrounded by equally thoughtful, carefully executed works that demonstrate a band who know exactly what they're doing. Think confidence, not ego.

By pushing themselves far beyond anything they've done in the past while maintaining their identity as a band, Vampire Weekend brought some timeless pop sophistication to Urban Outfitters playlists. It's an album that can truly be enjoyed by anyone, from millennials to those annoying people who use the word "millennials." (Josiah Hughes)