Released: Jan 12 2010
Genre: Indie Rock
Label: XL Recordings
“In December drinking Horchata/I’d look psychotic in a balaclava”.
Yes ladies and gentlemen, that line signals the return of New York four-piece Vampire Weekend, and they may just be wackier than ever. Don’t be fooled by the quite frankly boring artwork, this album is a rollercoaster ride right from opening song “Horchata”, inspired by the almond based beverage, to the final track.
The aforementioned “Horchata” is followed by “White Sky”, an upbeat track which is held together by a processed drum beat. This song sums up Vampire Weekend’s experimental nature to a tee, with lead singer Ezra Koenig choosing not to sing on the chorus but to scream an incoherent wail. Unconventional it may be, but somehow it works.
Next track “Holiday” is the closest this album comes to repeating the commercial sound of “A-Punk” from the self titled album whilst other tracks such as “California English” and “Run” both plod along and piece the album together nicely.
The highlight of the album for me however, is the brilliant “Giving Up the Gun”. Chris Tomson’s pounding drums really aid the “stop/start” nature of the verses, whilst the catchy chorus would surely make it a wise choice for the next release from the album.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of “Contra” is the band’s effort to evolve musically and reach a wider audience. The album is full of the energy that made the band so popular in the first place, just listen to the frantic first single “Cousins” for proof. However it’s clear that the band are keen to add a more mellow string to their bow, and songs such as album closer “I Think Ur a Contra”, in which Koenig seems to be getting a few things off his chest to a partner, show that it’s definitely an avenue worth exploring more on album number three.
All in all “Contra” is a record that probably won’t win Vampire Weekend many new fans, and is unlikely to see much commercial success in the way of singles (try and get Radio 1 to play “White Sky”!). On the other hand, their legion of fans are bound to be pleased with this offering and will be excited to hear how they sound on the upcoming tour.
~ Article by Jack Oldham