Contra review by Vampire Weekend

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  • Released: Jan 8, 2010
  • Sound: 8
  • Lyrics: 7
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 7.7 Good
  • Users' score: 7.5 (61 votes)
Vampire Weekend: Contra
2

Sound — 8
Contra, the second full-length offering from ska rock's Vampire Weekend has all the fun-filled ingredients that fans have come to appreciate about the band who started out as a coffeehouse band in the residence halls of their alma mater Columbia University in 2006. The quartet's mixture of reggae-racked grooves and catchy melodic hooks groom a contemporary version of Paul Simon enriched with cascades of buoyant glockenspiel-toned chimes, rubbery punk-funk squiggles and overtones of whispery strings. Hailed as pioneers of nouveau Afro-pop, Vampire Weekend live up to their reputation. Lead singer/guitarist Ezra Koenig ride the Latin-flavored surf of Horchata with ease as the jutting island riffs and the timpani-toned beats bubble and sprout stenciling a cheery calypso jangle and flaunting a steely sonorous. Bassist Chris Baio displays a sprightly rhythmic pattern along California English as the reggae-basted strokes of drummer Chris Tomson and guitarist/keyboardist Rostam Batmanglij enhance the tunes party-pop atmosphere. The tottering motions in the island beats of White Sky and Run are pleated with a cha-cha tempo, while the cruising grooves of Taxi Cab, Diplomat's Son and I Think UR A Contra are branded with lilting harmonies and satiny tones that lobe a lullaby ringing coated in a glossy gospel veneer. The band makes slits for their digital accoutrements like the twinkling locks fluttering across Giving Up The Gun, the flapping bristles of strings brushing over Diplomat's Son, and the cracks of techno-inscribed incisions along Cousins which have an experimental edge reminiscent of Dear Science. Vampire Weekend's bridle of ska-enameled grooves and cruising coffeehouse-pop riffage keeps the band securely in place as purveyors of nouveau Afro-pop.

Lyrics — 7
Audiences need to read between the lines when listening to Vampire Weekend's song lyrics. Their verses convey messages which are often written in like a secret code. For instance, the track Horchata endorses, Oh you had it, but you lost it / You understood, so you shouldn't have fought it. Each line reads like it is its own entity and disconnected from the following lines, like in Taxi Cab when Koenig surmises, You're not a victim but neither am I / Nostalgic for garbage / Desperate for time. In California English, Koenig perceives, And if it's all a curse / And we're just getting worse / Baby, please don't lose your faith in the good earth. And in Run, Koenig observes, Every dollar counts / And every morning hurts / We mostly work to live / Until we live to work. The lyrics are what you expect from college students who are trying to make sense of their surroundings and what is going on around the world. The lyrics communicate random thoughts and observations that are open to individual interpretation.

Overall Impression — 8
Vampire Weekend's album Contra has many similarities to their self-titled debut album from 2008 in the region of reggae rock and ska-sequined punk, though this second time around, they seem to have explored more ideas using digital-inspired nuances and esoteric-pop, possibly due to Batmanglij's dabbling in electro-club tunage with his side project Ra Ra Riot. The band who got their name from a movie that Koenig made during his freshman year in college, may play around with different musical influences but they never venture far from their Latin-flavored rock roots and that is what got them on the world market in the first place.

41 comments sorted by best / new / date

    mcmets07
    Deflection wrote: 14 year old girl music.
    no. warped tour music is 14 year old girl music.
    AntonioSP
    mcmets07 wrote: Deflection wrote: 14 year old girl music. no. warped tour music is 14 year old girl music.
    Bingo
    AbbeyRoad33
    Pimpbot5000 wrote: AbbeyRoad33 wrote: your a musician. You're a musician. You're an idiot. They look like fags. What can I say?
    your telling me you seriously made up your mind based on what they look like? holy ignorance batman.
    MacFamousKid
    Contra is a beautiful album. I'm sure once you guys grow up you'll like it. I'd say this music is aimed more towards college kids and generally people who are more open-minded about music. When I was in high school all I listened to was pop-punk music, and everything els sucked in my opinion. Now, I realize that it's quite the opposite. Sooner or later you'll realize there is more to the world than just loud rock/metal music. I agree that there is definitely some hippie-tree-hugging-indie shit out there that just plain sucks. However, I believe Vampire Weekend is an exception. The entire band is plenty talented and I don't think they deserve to be called "faggots." Not cool man.
    mallen i am
    This is a great album.
    Deflection wrote: 14 year old girl music.
    This is small minded garbage.
    ACertaintrigerr
    Its not a patch on their debut. I dont know, it just dosent have the same feel. Its still good though
    teh_radio wrote: Its an awesome cd, although it does resemble their debute album. None of their songs will ever beat Walcott, but cousins and horchata are very good.
    mmm yeah
    LightxGrenade
    you know I tried to give this band a chance and they just don't seem that great. Sometimes I feel the media will latch on to one band and hype them up as the most amazing thing. They try some cool stuff but honestly I always felt like I've heard it all before...not bad, just not deserving of all the attention they get. But that's just my opinion, to each his/her own
    deanosaurx
    I'd just like to point out that music doesn't need to be exceedingly original to be good but these guys do it pretty well. Its all just means to an end really...in the words of duke Ellington, "If it sounds good, it is good." Some people just need to close their eyes and mouths and open their ears for once. I can't really respect the reviewer because he used like 20 genres to describe the band when he could have easily posted a ink to their Myspace and let people listen...I don't hear "ska" anywhere on any Vampire Weekend album either. I can definitely hear the similarities to "Dear Science" though. I give the album a 10. I'm a big fan of Vampire Weekend and I love it as much as the debut. Best song on the album IMO is "Giving up the Gun". Also, lightxgrenade, that might be the most mature post I've ever seen on the internet and I respect your opinion.
    PDMChubby
    Nirvanarien wrote: Even Alice Cooper hates these guys, he's a legend so that says enough imo
    You base your opinions off of other people because they're legends? Yeah, Hitler, man. He was a legend.
    zink10192
    I truly enjoyed Contra, but not as much as their first album...and i knew that walking into target to buy this album last week. My point is its just like every other band, whether it be Metallica's Kill em all or Weezer's The Blue Album, a band's first album typically consists of their most creative work. In Vampire Weekend's case however, i noticed something much different: I think that in this album, they tried to cover the gamut of the music industry with each song, being all over the place. What i think Vampire weekend feels is that they don't know what their sound is yet, and they wanted to experiment off of their first album and try to find what was most appealing to them, and I am willing to bet that their third album will be much more structured and actually have a sound of their own...
    dubtastic2009
    Hey ....To All You Peeps Arguing About being immature and not liking them and calling them fags etc... to all of you people saying that once you grow up that you migght listen to it and understand or whatever, well ,, you all got it right... if your a true musician you would try to listen to the band and at least try and give it a try. A True musician studies (maybe not the right word but anyways) all pes of music or at least gives all music a listen to and try and understand the lyris or style and figure out where the band is coming from, what there message is, how their style incorpoates to the instrument you play etc... you may like it you may not , but you shoudn't come on UG and just start dissing bands because they look like fags as you put it. The optamistic peeps got it right grow up... even if you don't want to give them a try or a listen' too doesn't mean you should diss em ... anyways... you all got the point i'm shure , now i'm just rambling so peace out!! P.S. Feel free haters to burn me with your negative comments with you like cause your pissed I told you to grow up , it'll just further prove my point(s).
    Anthony1991
    kaptink wrote: haven't got it yet but cousins is a great song
    Really? I understand why people like it, but it just sounds hollow to me? Anyone else get that?
    Pimpbot5000
    Queermo...slappin' you slappin' you. These guys suck and I've never listened to them.
    Pimpbot5000
    AbbeyRoad33 wrote: your a musician.
    You're a musician. You're an idiot. They look like fags. What can I say?
    Pimpbot5000
    AbbeyRoad33 wrote: your telling me. holy ignorance batman.
    It's YOU'RE telling me. YOU'RE calling me ignorant but YOUR grammar makes you look as dumb as this faggot band. ...And you've never looked at a rapper and just knew you would hate his stuff?
    uglyorgan
    It seems like everyone is looking for instant satisfaction out of this album. I don't think it's anything spectacular...yet. I remember it took me a solid few weeks to really enjoy and respect their first album. After I get accustomed to each song and hear all the little intricacies, then I'm sure I'll really like it.
    Mr Pringle
    NEEDS MORE ARGUING! I like this album, it does sound similar to the first album but it's still pretty damn awesome.
    PDMChubby
    oncenfutureidio wrote: I really enjoy this album. People are saying that it's not like their first album and I kind of think that's what they're going for. As you realize that this is not their first album, then it's quite enjoyable. Contra has great lyrics and great melodies. Very well produced, written and made. Everything still sounds good and as original as the first album. Good work and energy from Vampire Weekend.
    I don't know about everyone else, but I don't think they meant that they don't like it because it's not like their first album, just that it's not as good. As far as I'm concerned, I don't want the albums to be the same and they are obviously not, but as you put them up together, their debut is better imo.
    terry444
    i was real excited about this album, really liked walcott and especially songs like i stand corrected on the last cd. I know the first album was a bit tongue in cheek with the preppy college image but the music shone through, good variety of instruments and funky lyrics with a different sound, they tend to get catagorised (dodgy spelling) with mgmt a lot, but VW are way more talented. Now the point!!! I felt this cd was a bit over the top, on first listen i was dissappointed, it feels pretentious now, like they lack direction or something, the album is all over the place, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but it lacks structure, it sounds like a collection of mad tunes. The lyrics this time are uninteresting and the experimentation with sound throws up a few good ideas but altogether fails to impress. I like the album but i dont love it and its not the album i was expecting. There are some good tunes, i love the crazy female vocal on the second track, not a big fan of cousins though. I hear that they are already thinking about recording the third album. I think thats the Vampire Weekend album that will either cement them or bury them. 7.5/10
    tudiosgriego
    i felt this alum a lot more folk-ish than the first one, still i loved the album and i honestly dont get why it has some bad reviews in other sites
    iBTBAM
    It's not like it's bad. I just preferred their debut to it. In my mind, they'll never top Walcott.
    teh_radio
    Its an awesome cd, although it does resemble their debute album. None of their songs will ever beat Walcott, but cousins and horchata are very good.
    AbbeyRoad33
    Pimpbot5000 wrote: Queermo...slappin' you slappin' you. These guys suck and I've never listened to them.
    LMFAO!!!! how the hell can you say they suck without listeaning to them???? seriosly you sound like possibly the most immature person on the face of that planet. what are you basing your judgment on then? the album cover? the fan base? if this is really how you think about music, i seriously hope you don't go around telling people your a musician.
    getwellnow
    Someone may have already mentioned this, but Batmanglij's side project is actually called Discovery, not Ra Ra Riot. He started discovery with Wes Miles from Ra Ra Riot. That's probably where the confusion is.
    oncenfutureidio
    I really enjoy this album. People are saying that it's not like their first album and I kind of think that's what they're going for. As you realize that this is not their first album, then it's quite enjoyable. Contra has great lyrics and great melodies. Very well produced, written and made. Everything still sounds good and as original as the first album. Good work and energy from Vampire Weekend.
    Metamidnight
    ITT: Trolls trolling trolls. So let me guess Pimpbot, you like some good ol' Metallica? Slayer? Trailer park anthems?
    PDMChubby
    Pimpbot5000 wrote: These guys suck and I've never listened to them. They look like fags. What can I say? you look as dumb as this faggot band. ...And you've never looked at a rapper and just knew you would hate his stuff?
    These quotes speak for themselves. Grow up, dude. The album's not awful, but it's not as good as their debut. I like Cousins and Horchata, and the other songs have their moments but it doesn't compare. Saw them at Lollapalooza last year, not a bad show.
    danielrobbyshor
    "giving up the gun" is the best track on this album imo. would like to hear what theyd be capable of if they went for a more hi-fi sound. fantastic album.
    colonel_dangles
    from ska rocks Vampire Weekend
    Don't think I'd classify them as ska rock at all... Can't wait to hear the album though!