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Demi Lovato

Demi |

POP

There are times on Demi Lovato’s fourth album when the X Factor mentor herself seems like a bright-eyed contestant eager to please the judges. Big ballads like “In Case,” a stripped-down declaration on which she belts way better than Britney Spears ever could, are designed to showcase her as a real singer rather than a prefab popster. But the slow songs, while displaying the former Disney Channel star’s maturity, sometimes get boring and overblown. Certainly, at 20, this girl should still be having fun, which she does in sassy style on “Really Don’t Care” (featuring Britain’s Cher Lloyd in a Ke$ha-esque cameo) and the even catchier kiss-off “Something That We’re Not.” Lovato fares better on these guitar-pop confections than on electro-dance tracks that never reach anthemic heights. Still, when Demi ends with the survivor story “Warrior,” she’s proven herself well enough to get Simon Cowell‘s approval.

Vampire Weekend

Modern Vampires of the City |

INDIE ROCK

For undead bloodsuckers, these vampires – with all their Ivy League preppiness and nerdiness – have lacked a certain bite. But on their latest, New York City’s indie darlings show that they’ve grown some fangs three albums after graduating from Columbia University. Tracks like “Finger Back” pack more rock stomp, while “Worship You” almost shreds like Celtic punk. In another spiky twist, the hip-swerving “Diane Young” lets frontman Ezra Koenig break into his best Elvis impersonation. Elsewhere, the haunting “Hudson,” shrouded in gloomy atmosphere, finds Vampire Weekend crossing over to the dark side like born-again goths.

COMMENTS? WRITE TO CHUCK: chucksreviews@peoplemag.com