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Contra is another great instalment of Vampire Weekend's discography. As great as I think the album is, it doesn't hold as much weight as their self-titled début. Most of the tracks really are excellent, but I think that the previous album captured the "Vampire Weekend essence" a little bit better. And if they weren't going to do that as perfectly as they did before, their second album should have at least matured more.
The sound, while incredibly distinctive, did little in developing. However, I can't complain. Vampire Weekend continues to be a ground breaking band, and I am far from tired of the work that they are producing. My favourite tracks on Contra were the last three: "Giving Up the Gun", "Diplomat's Son" and "I Think Ur a Contra". I consider "Giving Up the Gun" to be the most well written out of all their material, and "I Think Ur a Contra"'s dreamy sound makes it my personal favourite. It is a perfect song to close the album, and the preceding three do a great job in emphasizing this. Tracks like "California English" and "Cousins" I commended for individuality, except it felt like it was trying a little to hard to do so.
Vampire Weekend already has such a unique sound, why push it? Besides small misgivings, Contra is an incredibly well executed album and I am biting my nails waiting for the next.
It is no surprise that Vampire Weekend is one of the rising stars in the alternative music scene. They have quickly made the rise from Indie superstars to Alternative celebrities. They are loved for their unique sound everywhere they go, and they seem to attract more and more young fans every day with their witty lyrics and soft and poetic sound.
Perhaps we are witnessing the rise in their stardom with the release of their new album, Contra. This is the follow-up to their first album, which was self-titled (a gutsy move for an up-and-coming band from New York City). Contra offers fans a plethora of new material that allows the guys of Vampire to explore with new sounds. For example, the electronic soundboard in "Giving Up The Gun" and "Diplomat's Son". These are the kinds of songs Vampire Weekend did not risk in their first album. My favorite song of the album is definitely "White Sky" because you get to hear the range in Ezra's (their lead singer) voice: from a normally-pitched singing of his whimsical lyrics to almost a squeal on the "ah-oooo-oooo-oooo-ooo". I am simply amazed that a non-classically trained singer can have such range and still manage to play guitar as great as he does.
Vampire Weekend is slowly starting to creep their way into mainstream media, and it's a matter of no time before you might hear your mom talking about those 4 Columbia University alumni lighting up the music scene.
Vampire Weekend released their first studio album of the same name, to huge critical acclaim in 2007. Spin magazine called them 'The best band of 2008' and their song 'Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa' was ranked 67th on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 best songs of the year.
The band, named after lead singer Erza Koenig's amateur film of the same name, have a unique sound which may be why they have not been able to match their critical success with commercial success. 'Oxford Comma' and 'Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa' reached 38 and 178 in the UK charts respectively, and even 'A-Punk' which has featured in many TV shows and films, managed only to get to 55. The album as a whole however, went platinum in the UK.
Their new album, 'Contra', starts with 'Horchata' which carries on the original sound of Vampire Weekend, and is maybe a little chirpier and happier than the last album. This, along with 'Holiday' stand out as the best of the first half of the album, with the second sure to get plenty of play time on the radio this summer.
The extremely upbeat 'Cousins' forces your feet to move along with the beat. Another highlight is 'Giving Up the Gun', the video for which features cameos from Joe Jonas, Lil Jon, RZA and Jake Gyllenhaal. The record ends with the mellow, relaxing and beautiful 'I Think Ur A Contra', and leaves a lasting impression on the listener's mind.
There really are no lowlights on 'Contra'. This album, like their debut, is flawless. Each track is different, original and remarkable.
There is only one way for me to sum up 'Contra': Buy it!
Contra is the follow up album to the highly successful self-titled debut album. Released in the UK on the 11th January 2010, the hype of the media has combined with the reputation Vampire Weekend give themselves a lot to answer for.
The album has 10 songs on it as followed:
This is a very suitable opening song. It has the typical melodic soft sound with the gentle, but rich voice of lead singer Ezra Kroenig bouncing over the top. The riff of the song is played with xylophones with a quiet drumbeat in the background which makes which is very nice to listen to, and is quite relaxed and chilled to listen to.
Starting of with the more synth beats with a heavy beat starts very well and is more electro than the previous song, but still maintains the gentle singing before the chorus develops into some interesting high pitched humming, which is impressive and gives a funky twist for this funky pop tune. I like listening to the song, but feel the album needs to move forwards into a faster, choppier style more commonplace on the first album.
To my delight, Holiday starts of with a quick drum beat followed with a good bass line and more pop synths. The lyrics 'If I go on a Holidaaaay' make this song a song that I imagine will be very popular over summer; a very good festival song. This is so far my favourite and is the most addictive sing along song of the 3 so far.
This is immediately different to other songs. It sounds most like any song of the previous album, however a distortion is encorporated to the singing of the songs. At first I didn't know what to make of it, but I quite like it; at least its original!
Starts of slow, with simple lyrics related to the song title. The song later develops with a cute piano solo played for about 30 seconds before the singing continues, before later joining again.
I find this song quite boring as it is quite unnoriginal and doesn't really progress at all. The lyrics are quite average, and the music is nothing special except for a memorable riff being played over the drums.
This is the first released single off the album released a week previously. It is very fast beat accompanied by some furious drumming and a impressively thought out riff which compliments the song fantastically. 'Me and my cousins, you and your cousins' repeats numerous times throughout the song - pretty catchy lyrics. Finally ends with some bells adding to the music before an abrupt end makes this song my favourite on the album. Instantly catchy, I could listen to this on repeat a lot!
Giving up the gun:
This song starts of a lot heavier to anything I have heard from vampire weekend; a loud drum beat and heavy bass line however, the lyrics are similar to previous songs. I don't quite know what to make of this, and not sure whether I like it or not. Unfortunately, that is all I have to say on this one...
This is the longest song on the album at around 6 minutes. Funky beats are the basis of this song which play alongside a bouncy bass line as well as piano sounding chords. The song is quite repetitive but thats expected for 6 minutes of song. Similar to the first couple of songs as is very relaxed.
I think UR a contra:
The last song on the album starts off like something from a disney love scene is probably the best way to describe it. It carries on for some time like this, not really progressing anywhere. Singing style is similar to the other songs, however is a lot slower and more classical. In my opinion, I find this quite dull and boring, not something I would listen to on its own. A bit dissapointed.
The album itself is very similar overall to the first debut album, so is worth listening to if you liked that. However, the musical style of Vampire Weekend has really progressed but matured more than anything. I was hoping for some more songs that scream single at you, and will get everyone singing along to them, however, I can't see anything but Cousins living up to this.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
2 White Sky
4 California English
5 Taxi Cab
8 Giving Up The Gun
9 Diplomat's Son
10 I Think Ur A Contra