For his main gig Vampire Weekend, Rostam Batmanglij tipped his cap to traditional African musical tropes. For Discovery, he's teamed up with Wes Miles of like-minded band Ra Ra Riot to dabble in contemporary R&B. Unlike Vampire Weekend, Discovery's appropriations are a bit more measured: an 808 beat doubling up here, a swatch of autotuned vocals or rumbling bassline there.
Miles and Batmanglij mostly trade off vocals and harmonies, but their voices are indistinguishable. Both sing about travel, about listlessness and passivity. For most people, traveling is a cure for boredom, but LP's protagonists, like jaded, perma-tanned cosmopolitans, seem unable to outrun their malaise. They're detached, here to observe rather than engage: "Orange Shirt's" lust object looks especially sexy when they're "wearing Lacoste." Later on, guest vocalist Ezra Koening admits, "My bed's too big for just me," a boast as much as a complaint. The duo's cover of The Jackson 5's "I Want You Back" becomes another story of having everything except the one thing that could give it all meaning.
In fact, LP's so well-dressed that you forget that Discovery have borrowed their best tricks. "Slang Tang" opts for a reggae flavor, coming off like a spangled cousin to Ciara's "Oh." The zipping, stuttering drums on "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend" are topped by stunning, layered vocals from Dirty Projector's Angel Deradoorian. Batmanglij and Miles cut her pitch-perfect voice into a filigree of sharp harmonies and vocal runs. "Osaka Loop Line" pairs tiny beats with spiraling, effervescent keyboards, slowing down, sputtering and speeding up again like a train running express. "So Insane" pulls the same tempo trick over brighter electro pop, and even stealing a line from "The Electric Slide."In short, Discovery imbue their post-Postal Service pop with, if not R&B's spirit, then at least some of its most appealing tics.