It would take a lot for Vampire Weekend’s debut to rise above the stench of privileged hype that surrounds it. A bunch of kids who formed the band in their Columbia dorm room borrow wholesale from Afrobeat and angular ’80s stuff, and they quickly become an online buzz band before releasing a single album? Thankfully the record, and the band, are great fun: playful, pop-wise, and smart enough to pull their shtick off with aplomb. Organ and drums are often the focal point of the music, bringing to mind a goofier, happier Clinic (if that group’s record-collecting habits were more scattershot). On the excellently named (and better sounding) “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa,” Vampire Weekend asks, “Does it feel so unnatural / To Peter Gabriel too?,” immediately disarming–with self-aware brazenness–any criticism of their pomo/postcolonialist borrowing of “ethnic” music. It’s clear that these dudes have not only inherited the nerd-rock omnivore’s mantle from the Talking Heads, they’ve actually and already improved upon it.

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