Vampire Weekend – Contra Vampire Weekend – Contra

Vampire Weekend - Contra

Vampire Weekend’s sophomore album, Contra, was released last week with plenty of pre-amplified hype. All the band had to do was put out a couple singles, and promote this stoned-looking cover girl floating around the web. Her name is apparently Kristen. Premature maybe, but this band has got fan diversity, clever lyrics, and a radio friendly sound. Their expectations from the public are somewhat higher than usual, but it’s because they’ve risen so quickly within the musical ranks.

Vampire Weekend is a band that is working the system in a way that is not plagiaristic but ingenious. Contra is a collection of genres with influences straight out of world music and history of pop classes in college. They’ve taken electro beats, Afro percussion, reggae bass, and melodies from all over (Beach Boys to Police), ultimately creating a preppy blend of urban pop resonance. Vampire Weekend’s song, “Diplomat’s son” is the extreme adaptation of this concept. Acting within an irregular orchestra, and a magnitude of instruments with simple progressions. The song has a whole lot going on characteristically. Contra tends to be an overindulgence of musical contraptions, which really hides the intellectuality of their lyrics. Everything Vampire Weekend does seems to be on purpose though.

Ezra Koenig, the lead singer is quoted in an interview with Billboard saying, ”My goal has always been to make some type of pop music, to always have my songs be catchy and immediate on some level.” The Columbia graduates shed their pretentious demeanor by doing something very unlike many bands. Most Indie labeled bands; most musicians in general, would insist that what they perform is on a deeper level. Bands want to someday be on the radio, but there are so many musicians that discuss how mainstream music sucks, even though they are in their garages trying to think up catchy phrases. Vampire Weekend openly admits to this attractive superficiality, which ironically makes them original.

This does not act as an excuse though for Vampire Weekend to still be called Indie. Indie is just an underground phase artists go through before they have been signed to a major label. A band can’t be called Indie once they’ve really made onto a top 100 list, especially when they are defining their identity within the mainstream. Vampire Weekend at the same time isn’t just another band that has been taken over by a record company (XL) and morphed into what is profitable. They can recognize the significant qualities to Paul Simon’s Graceland, and probably even know how historically controversial the album was.

Contra is only Vampire Weekend’s second album, and it is pretty damn good trendy pop music. The only problem is if they continue to only attempt to be the song someone hums as they walk down the upper west side, then they may miss out on being truly great. A school of rock beginning doesn’t always guarantee you are going to make all the smart moves, case in point Peter Gabriel who started Genesis.

Track Listing:
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

Vampire Weekend - Contra, reviewed by Bootsie on 2010-01-22T15:05:57-08:00 rating 4.0 out of 5

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