"Contra" by Vampire Weekend

Vampire Weekend
Contra

XL Recordings
2010

Review

For those of you that loved the "Punk-Inspired and filtered through the Ivy League" tunes of Vampire Weekend on their last album you are probably going to be surprised at the lack of songs that sound like that on this album. The few exceptions that revisit that sound are currently coming out as singles. If you love the singles, run out and cop them bad-boys. For the skinny on the rest of the album, click on through.

On their last outing, Vampire Weekend asked the question, "Who gives a fuck about an Oxford Comma?" and with that statement put themselves in their version of Punk music's "fuck the man" aesthetic. This time around, there's really no sign of anything resembling even passing angst or anger even in the music itself. This is less Iggy Pop and really more Paul Simon. Really, this reminds me of Paul Simon's music in a lot of ways. The most clear examples of the "Simonification" of Vampire Weekend are the tracks "White Sky" and "Diplomat's Son" which in many ways have a real "world music" vibe to them (in particular "Diplomat's Son" which has a real laid back Reggae/Calypso vibe to it).

Now, I happen to like Paul Simon's music. So I'm not saying that I think that this shift in styles is a bad thing and it can be pretty decent as is the case on "White Sky" or "Horchata" (and it can be pretty bad like on the auto-tune assisted "California English"). It's just a bit upsetting to me because that is clearly what is not being marketed. So for the marketing department and to draw in the fans of the previous album you have the current singles "Cousins" and "Giving Up The Gun".

"Cousins" is the perfect Vampire Weekend song in their original style, that is it has what I like to call "The Punk" (not to be confused with The Funk).

"Giving Up The Ghost" is a nice transition from "The Punk" to the "The Simon" and is a very catchy, infinitely listenable song with a chorus that just won't get out of your head.

My point here is that stylistically, the music here veers away from what the fan base loves and that - for the most part - "The Punk" is not here. That said, I actually enjoyed the album once I accepted that it wasn't going to be an evolution of "Vampire Weekend". While I would have loved for them to move the scale towards the more aggressive Punk side of the spectrum, I can appreciate a good Pop song as much as the next guy or gal. So for fans of the stuff that is blowing up your marketing screens, take a listen before you buy.

The Vampire has lost some teeth yes, but at least you can be assured that you will not get bitten. That should make the marketing department of the label very happy.

3.700 out of 5

Track Ratings

1. Horchata (03:26) 3
2. White Sky (02:58) 4
3. Holiday (02:18) 4
4. California English (02:30) 2
5. Taxi Cab (03:55) 3
6. Run (03:52) 4
7. Cousins (02:25) 5
8. Giving Up the Gun (04:46) 5
9. Diplomat’s Son (06:01) 4
10. I Think Ur a Contra (04:26) 3