Vampire Weekend's long-awaited follow up album to their critically acclaimed self-titled debut is finally here. Many times after a band has a great debut album, they end up getting raped by the record companies and the money and disappear into obscurity. ‘Contra’ is good enough to prevent this from happening, at least for now.
‘Contra’ kicks off with the mellow, but nonetheless catchy tune ‘Horchata.’ Vampire Weekend are well-known for their distinguishing African percussion influences, but ‘Horchata’ has a bit more of an island feel to it. And although Vampire Weekend’s trademark is their drums and percussions, it’s wider range of instruments that they use that impress me. My particular favorite instrument in the Vampire Weekend repertoire is their violins, which is why Walcott was my favorite song off the first album. ‘Contra’s’ violins are mostly found on their final track ‘I Think UR a Contra’ and some nice string instruments on ‘California English.’
‘Diplomat’s Son’ is also a bit of an impressive tune with what sounds almost like two separate songs fused into a melody. The piano on the song is another example of the range of instruments Vampire Weekend in willing to use. Actually, it seems that Vampire Weekend is willing to use any instrument they can get their hands on. Some of the songs on ‘Contra’ even have some electronic sounds which feels like a step from their last album.
One of Vampire Weekend’s most impressive attributes is their lead singer, Ezra Koenig’s whose voice has a massive amount of range. The ex-8th grade teacher and Columbia University alum voice is quite impressive on their second track ‘White Sky’ when he hits notes that are unimaginable even to me, which is insulting to my normally soprano range.
Their first hit off the album ‘Cousins’ is definitely the most upbeat on the album and couldn’t be a better choice for the first single. Catchy, repetitive, and danceable, cousins in the perfect indie hit for the season. The video, directed by Garth Jennings, is also fun and light-hearted.
Vampire Weekend’s lyrics are whimsical, but by no means impressive and this new album doesn’t have the same cohesion that their first album had. Is ‘Contra’ groundbreaking? Not even close, but Vampire Weekend does supply peppy pop music that includes intellectual attributes (reflective of their IV education, obviously) so hardly seen in today’s peppy pop music genre.
1. Horchata* 2. White Sky* 3. Holiday* 4. California English* 5. Taxi Cab* 6. Run* 7. Cousins* 8. Giving Up the Gun* 9. Diplomat's Son* 10. I Think UR A Contra
Free Download: HorchataVW.mp3