Vampire Weekend Releases Sophomore Album ‘Contra’

This Article was originally written for The Hartford Informer on January 28, 2010.
Vampire Weekend returned this month with a sophomore effort and follow up to the very unique and deservedly well received self-titled first album.
“Contra” picks up for the most part where their first album, “Vampire Weekend” left off. The clean and melodic music, is something that will get stuck in your head without really knowing it.
Released just shy of two years ago, the first album began with a sound which was at first hard to understand—a perky full sounding keyboard, heavy snare drum beat that left nothing to be desired, a clean guitar, almost ghostly vocal, and symphonic overtone—grew on the listener easily.
For some, this was not the case, and the music was far from appealing. The hype surrounding this relatively obscure band was huge, and even I at one point was a disbeliever—that was until I picked up their album.
I knew right off the bat with “Mansard Roof” followed by a personal favorite “Oxford Comma” that I truly liked the sound Vampire Weekend had so masterfully created.
“Contra” starts off much the same way.
“Horchatta” really emphasizes the African sound, which they so stylishly construct, beautifully mashed with orchestral accompaniment. The first single manages to perfectly capture the feeling of Vampire Weekend more completely than any of the other songs on the album, bringing more fodder to the already established factions who despise the music that Vampire Weekend produce.
Vampire Weekend has succeeded in bringing more abstract sounds into their bizarre concoction while still putting out something great. “Diplomat’s Son” located near the end of the album, samples M.I.A., putting it over a piercing keyboard and violin track. Truthfully strange yet appropriately fashioned. While “Diplomat’s Son” may be a slower song, it is immediately contrasted to a faster song like “Giving up the Gun” something that Vampire Weekend manages to do smoothly and without hesitation.
“Giving up the Gun” begins with a swift beat, which quickly turns electronic and ethereal by the end while still maintaining the distinctive melody.
The album ends with “I Think Ur Contra” an echo-ridden irregular background contrasted by a pinging melody, building with light beat, adding a violin symphony, a Spanish-sounding guitar lick and lead singers Ezra Koenig voice floating above it all before fading to the end.
The sounds that come from the album are abstract to say the least, but are so astonishingly woven to completeness no one would dare mention the fact that they shouldn’t be there to begin with.I wasn’t immediately impressed by “Contra” the way I was with their first album. It did take some time to grow on me. Had I written this review a week ago I would not have written as glowing a review as is currently spewing from the ends of my fingertips.
Whereas their first effort was straight in as a solid album, the latter falls slightly short of that achievement while still managing a good effort; delivering the clean, perky and happy music we have all come to expect from indie rockers Vampire Weekend.


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