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Vampire Weekend's _Contra_ excites listeners

The sophomore album release tones it down with R&B beats.

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Spencer Pearson/Graphic Designer

Feb. 2, 2010

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.

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Article comments

Feb. 2, 2010 at 1:53 p.m.

Karen McCormick: This is the best article I have ever read!

Feb. 2, 2010 at 2:42 p.m.

WIlliam Miller: This review reminds me of how I got my start years ago covering Stillwater on the road. They were incendiary. The song 'Fever Dog" was a big step forward for them. Keep up the great work Katie, very impressive

Feb. 2, 2010 at 10:44 p.m.

libet: hey- you may be wrong about horchata...i really hated it at first,too....but jeez, lyrics like "here comes a feeling you thought you'd forgotten...." and "oh-you had it ..but-oh,no...you lost it.." they're pretty stirring. ive gotten tears in my eyes a few times over them...and not very long after i proclaimed that song lame. i thought it was the mansard roof of this album. i'm beyond that now. for the record: run, diplomat's son, and white sky are my faves...with i think you're a contra always stuck in my ear too.

Feb. 3, 2010 at 3:17 p.m.

Dana Kuehr: KATIE MCCORMICK, EVERYTHING YOU SAY IN THIS ARTICLE IS SPOT ON. GREAT CRITIQUE! YOUR KNOWLEDGE OF MUSIC AND LYRICAL INTERPRETATION IS NOTHING SHORT OF BRILLIANT. I LOVE YOU, MARRY ME?

Feb. 3, 2010 at 3:28 p.m.

Liza Goldberg: i thoroughly enjoyed this article and am going to go out and find this album so I can listen. To whomever the author of the article is I give them mad props and think they should write more for this newspaper.

Feb. 3, 2010 at 7:42 p.m.

Mari Connolly: This may be one of the best articles i have ever read on this website. I am a loyal reader and I think that anyone who is lucky enough to have katie writing, should hire her right away!

Feb. 3, 2010 at 8:25 p.m.

Elise Smith: Congrats Ms. Reviewer. So impressive!

Feb. 5, 2010 at 10:04 a.m.

Anne Disabato: great article! Your writing is as catchy as vampire weekends tunes!!! LOVE you, babysit me?

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