Contra By Vampire Weekend
On their second album, New York native indie maestros Vampire Weekend seem to have gone more political than one might usually expect offbeat rockers of their ilk to do. The album is called Contra, and is said to be named to contrast the influential ‘70s album by The Clash, Sandanista! (In Nicaragua, the Contras were a right-wing federation opposed to the Marxist militancy of the Sandanistas in the 70s and 80s).
And then right when you think they should get heavy and opinionated, the album begins with a song about drinking “Horchata” in December that has a tin drum beat that sounds more like a summer party than a statement. So never fear, Vampire Weekend are not trying to become the new Clash. Sounding like a young Paul Simon, Ezra Koenig then slides into “White Sky,” a similarly bouncy tune.
Speeding things up a bit, “California English” is a sonic trip as Ezra Koenig reels off ridiculous lyrics that are often too fast to be intelligible, but still have an entirely catchy rhythm.
The track “Taxi Cab,” coming halfway through the album, is the first time the band takes a breather and gives us a mellower tune. They experiment more instrumentally here too, bringing in a harpsichord sound and a moody backbeat reminiscent of ‘80s movie soundtracks.
They move on to evoke the soaring electronic vibe of their indie peers, MGMT during the choruses on “Run.” And on “Cousins,” they bring about a punkish Clash vibe with sharp drums and vigorous vocals.
On Contra, there doesn’t seem to be too much of a change in musical direction, compared to the band’s first self-titled album. But this, as most of their fans will tell you, is a good thing because the sound they have now established is unique, entertaining and successful. Good for you, Vampire Weekend!
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