Contra by Vampire Weekend
Ezra Koenig and the boys of Vampire Weekend are back with their sophomore release, Contra, and the next step is to decide whether or not this new release is a “sophomore slump” or another great record from the New York group. Vampire Weekend’s first album, Vampire Weekend, was huge. It was mind bogglingly awesome in so many ways, you didn’t know how but they created the musical equivalent to Jesus eating cheeseburgers with Dog the Bounty Hunter (close your eyes and imagine it). With many younger bands who’s first release has them hitting the ground running, it seems to be hard to keep up the pace. With this record, Vampire Weekend definitely experiments with their sound, letting Ezra wiggle around in his comfort zone while the guitars, bass and drums all flail around somehow keeping time.
Now, don’t get me wrong here, Contra is not a bad album…at least its not all bad. Standout tracks like Horchata, Cousins, Run and White Sky are tracks that would’ve been well accepted on their first album. Wonderful songwriting and musical arrangement in these keeps them in your head and on you iPod for quite a while. Any song with lyrics that include drinking horchata in december while wearing a balaclava is something to get excited about, trust me. Then, there are songs like Diplomat’s Son, Holiday and Taxi Cab. These songs…well…they’re like getting hit in the face with a flavored snow ball that disintegrates and leaves trace amounts of yummyness for you to lick away. At first you are upset with these tracks…they just don’t seem right, but then you realize there is a little bit of good in them. Mediocre to say most of these, nothing horrible but not anything that will end up on your most played list. And then there were 3. These three tracks surprised me…in a bad way. I was forced to skip them before I could even finish playing them, not something I like to do but it just wasn’t right, these songs didn’t belong here. California English, I Think UR A Contra and Giving Up The Gun. Scattered, slow and blippy they bring the album down to a level below that of their first release. The album is not as spectacularly refreshing as Vampire Weekend but thats not to say its not worth a listen. If you held a gun to my head and demanded I rate it out of 10…i’d give it a 6. Not a complete disaster, on the contrary it provided a few very impressive tracks, it just wasn’t what I had hoped it would be.
Don’t be afraid of it, I’ll let you feast on these and decide for yourself if its worth a buy.