The indie rock outfit from New York definitely lit up the music scene with their debut album Vampire Weekend which got released two years ago. After two years, the band finally released their sophomore effort named Contra which actually serves as a great follow-up to its predecessor.
Contra opens up with Horchata (this is actually a name for a Mexican rice drink). The track shows off the band’s unique suits right from the get-go: the pulsating African drums. Following Horchata is the synth-laden White Sky. Ezra Koenig does sound great in this one as well. The chord work done on White Sky is simply great in my honest opinion. Holiday gives off a The Strokes semblance. The chord work is at its peak in this one. The presence of the keyboard helps add a sense of lushness into the track. Absolutely the album’s best moment.
Taxi Cab comes off as a surprise. The presence of the rhythms created by the piano are absolutely gorgeous. It does not sound as a very edgy track unlike previous material from the band but it does a great job nevertheless. Meanwhile, Run charges in like a festive track with the way the drums were going in the track.
No matter how hard I tried to appreciate the album, it does have quirks. California English, with its very hard-to-understand lyrics, is really a letdown. Cousins just does not match the richness of A-Punk. Sure, the high-paced crashing of the drums is great as well as the rapid playing of the guitar but it’s simply a track that loses its flavor eventually.
Another upbeat track comes with Giving Up The Gun. The synth-dominated track just ends as a decent track though it may seem underrated for others. However, Diplomat’s Sun may end up as the album’s most underrated track. The synth does a lovely job in this one.
The album closes with style through I Think Ur A Contra. It is a great ballad that shows off lots of great emotion from the band. The orchestral style seen in the track is definitely a treat to the senses as well.
Contra is not better than Vampire Weekend. However, the band’s efforts in trying to change things up must be lauded. Vampire Weekend knows what it’s doing with their stuff but it just falls short. However, the tracks are really likable once the third spin with the record is done. It really can be a grower. Still, I am convinced that the band got off track in Contra and eventually, the band does not match the greatness that its debut album had.
Recommended Tracks: Horchata, White Sky, Holiday, Taxi Cab, and I Think Ur A Contra
Label: XL Recordings
Date Released: January 8, 2010