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Vampire Weekend - Contra Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 8
Musicianship 7
Lyrics 6.5
Production 6.5
Creativity 5
Lasting Value 4
Reviewer Tilt 5
Final Verdict: 60%
Member Ratings
Vocals 8.92
Musicianship 7.92
Lyrics 8
Production 7.83
Creativity 8.58
Lasting Value 8.83
Reviewer Tilt 9.75
Average: 85%
Inside AP.net

Vampire Weekend - Contra

Reviewed by: Matthew Tsai (02/06/10)
Vampire Weekend - Contra
Record Label: XL
Release Date: January 12, 2010

When Vampire Weekend released their self-titled debut in 2008, they received a surprising amount of criticism despite being endorsed by the prestigious Pitchfork Magazine. They didn’t seem to mind it then, though, and they surely don’t mind it now, because Contra takes all the important elements from Vampire Weekend — noodly guitars, awkward lyrics and sassy indie pop romps — and only makes them louder.

That’s not to say the album is Vampire Weekend Part II. The Columbia University graduates are markedly more experimental with their instruments on Contra, poking around at synth -pop, Caribbean influences and even Afro-beat. “Holiday” sounds like something that would be playing on a sandy beach with palm trees and translucent waters, whereas “Taxi Cab” shows off a background that combines twinkling pianos with stuttering beats. Opener “Horchata” and single “Cousins” both carry a strong, noisy Caribbean flavor, and the lyrically snide closer “I Think Ur a Contra” is so slow it sounds mournful. Make no mistake about it, the album is a potluck of fresh styles and genres.

It’s too bad then, that none of it sticks. While the tunes are unquestionably accessible, they also lack the charm tracks like “Oxford Comma” or “A-Punk” from the previous album had. No track here can pretend to have more than a smidgen of lasting value. “White Sky’s” estrogen-charged chorus aims to be weird, but misses decency in its pursuit; “California English” uses Auto-Tune “ironically” only to come across as frivolous; “Horchata,” a ditty about a girl, lets loose the most irrelevant lyric to a song’s theme this side of Black Eyed Peas in “I’d look psychotic in a balaclava.” It’s hard to imagine the album not being forgotten by the end of the year.

Some have proclaimed Vampire Weekend the incarnation of Paul Simon’s Graceland in modern times, but while that was far from the truth two years ago, it’s even more ludicrous with the release of Contra. Graceland appealed to American folk roots, incorporated genuine African elements and had songs that have been celebrated for decades; unfortunately, Contra can’t, and won’t be able to, claim any of that. It’s just a mediocre collection of pop songs — some enjoyable, and some subpar — that will eventually be lost in the new wave of indie pop bands.
 
Displaying posts 1 - 10 of 10
08:30 AM on 02/17/10
#2
bnoblitt
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I am basically in love with this album, it haven't taken it out of my radio in my car since i got it.
12:57 PM on 02/17/10
#3
xapplexpiex
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Well written review. I actually really like this album. I feel it has a darker mood to it than the first album. My favorite track is def Giving Up the Gun.
10:28 PM on 02/18/10
#4
tyramail
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this has a much higher lasting value for me, i really enjoy it.
03:01 AM on 02/19/10
#5
princesschad
sowing season
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this album will be on many top ten lists at the end of this year...certainly won't be forgotten.
06:51 AM on 02/19/10
#6
COREhorizon
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I definitely think 60% is a little low...
08:18 AM on 02/19/10
#7
inthemidst
Grace and Peace
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I agree, this album really doesn't have any lasting value for me either. It's solid in its ambition for creating quirky pop songs, but like you said, it just "doesn't stick". It's too bad they didn't make more tracks like "A-Punk". I really enjoy that tune.
09:40 AM on 02/19/10
#8
Matthew Tsai
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Well written review. I actually really like this album. I feel it has a darker mood to it than the first album. My favorite track is def Giving Up the Gun.

Thank you!

I definitely think 60% is a little low...

60% sounds about right for me since the album's nothing spectacular.

I agree, this album really doesn't have any lasting value for me either. It's solid in its ambition for creating quirky pop songs, but like you said, it just "doesn't stick". It's too bad they didn't make more tracks like "A-Punk". I really enjoy that tune.

Agreed.
03:03 PM on 02/19/10
#9
Yellowcard2006
I'll buy you a raincoat
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I liked your review and agree with it. I streamed the album and had no intention of going back to it. "Giving up the gun" is pretty good though.
11:02 AM on 03/23/10
drevans18
BLERG
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this album is great. and the lasting value IMO is much much higher. this cd will stay on rotation for a long time... much longer than their s/t.
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