Vampire Weekend - Contra
Record Label: XL
Release Date: January 12, 2009
There have been several reviews for this album but they all have one thing in common. They're all positive. So if you're looking for a negative review of the album, keep looking.
Vampire Weekend is not an easy band to hate. They may have gone to prestigious schools and have lyrics that would only make sense to a Harvard grad, but once you hear one of their songs, its easy to see the appeal. They write (usually) short fun catchy songs that don't sound like any other band. When I first heard "Mansard Roof" and "A-Punk" (Still their two best songs to date), I didn't know what to think. All I knew was "I love this and I want to hear more." Their first album had no clunkers, but it still wasn't perfect. Some of their songs weren't as good as the rest but it was still a damn near perfect record, and therefore, I gave it a well-deserved 87.
2010's "Contra", the first new album I've heard this year still shines, although this one has a few skippable tracks. It starts off with the fun and catchy "Horchata" in which lead singer Ezra Koenig sings "In December drinking horchata, I looked psychotic in a balaclava." Now if only today's popular rappers (Soulja Boy, I'm lookin' at you) had this good a vocabulary.
"White Sky" is my second favorite song on the album, and with good reason. It follows the VW formula: it's short, has a good beat behind it, and its fun to sing along to. Just make sure no one is in the car with you, otherwise you have to be pretty confident in your falsetto. Even with the bouncy "Holiday," it sounds like another classic. Then comes two clunkers.
"California English" uses the vocoder in a way I really can't tell if they're trying to be ironic or not. Either way, it doesn't work and it's pretty unlistenable. "Taxi Cab" is a slower song that drags on with not much going on. Already, its not as good as their first.
"Cousins," "Run," and "Giving Up the Gun" are all brilliant and showcase just how talented these New York preps really are. No other band could have written "Cousins". I dare you to listen to that song and not keep it on repeat for the next few months.
They sample the talented M.I.A. in "Diplomat's Son" which works for awhile but ultimately fails to be very engaging. They end it with a slow song "I Think U R a Contra," which probably wasn't a good idea and makes the album end with soft sigh instead of a loud BANG! Ultimately, it's a good album but its not great.