Contra, the highly anticipated follow up to Vampire Weekend's 2008 debut, is far from disappointing. This indie rock foursome hailing from New York infuses its music with exciting guitar rifts, complex lyrics and stunning vocals. Obtaining mainstream success with its self-titled debut has only fueled efforts to make a better and more exciting album. Vampire Weekend received acclaim from prestigious reviewers such as Rolling Stone, Spin Magazine and even the sticklers at Pitchfork, but the album lacked a certain quality that Contra made up for.
Along with its regular afro-pop and orchestral feel, this album seems to be heavily influenced by musical talent Paul Simon. Ezra Koenig, lead singer of Vampire Weekend, has said before he has been inspired by Simon's works, especially Graceland, but it never has been as obvious as on Contra.
The album maintains an upbeat quality. Although it starts with the unnecessary and unimpressive song "Horchata," the album picks right back up with the perfectly airy "White Sky." Some of the highlights of this album are the overwhelmingly energetic "Cousins" that could make anybody feel the sudden need to bust a move along with the song "California English" that perfectly uses the auto-tune R&B artist T-Pain is so known for.
The song that truly stands out is "Diplomat's Son." By sampling M.I.A, this song creates a more tribal sound than all the others. It perfectly demonstrates Koenig's superb vocals. The witty but cryptic lyricism Vampire Weekend is widely known for is even more appealing in Contra. As in "Taxi Cab" when Koenig wails "when the taxi door was open wide/I pretended I was horrified/by the uniform clothes outside." Koenig is basically stating he is who he is and it's not for show.
Contra enhances Vampire Weekend's already incredible sound by adding more electronic and R&B beats while toning it down a little bit. This album will get the listener excited about this intelligent and energetic band and leaves many yearning for what is to come.