‘Contra’ – Vampire Weekend – the aaron elya review
When I started this blog, I had bigger intentions than to just take a picture every day (which is still cool). I wanted to review music! While my time is often taken up with “real life” stuff, I have managed to gather enough thoughts about one of my favorite new albums.
Released: January 12th, 2010
Produced by Rostam Batmanglij
Run Time: 36:40 (depending on which version you have)
‘Contra’ is the sophomore release for New York based indie-rock-band-turned-mainstream-darlings, Vampire Weekend.
It’s easy to tell that the follow up to their 2008 self-titled debut had much more support from the powers that be. It’s a much more complex album. The words from lead singer/writer, Ezra Koenig, are just as complex as those on the first album, but the music itself carries much deeper arrangements. Evidence of this is heard in songs like ‘California English’ and ‘Run’.
‘White Sky’, ‘Horchata’, and ‘Giant’ are plucky and full of vibrance. In contrast, songs like ‘I Think Ur A Contra’, ‘Taxi Cab’, and ‘Diplomat’s Son’ display the bands ability to flex musically in both directions.
The lead single, ‘Cousins’, helped propel ‘Contra’ to # 1 on the US Billboard 100 in its debut and is ALL about energy. The arrangement features fast beating rhythm, quick vocals, and a expressive percussion section (often seen on their TV appearances – Letterman, Fallon, etc.). A very “radio friendly” contribution.
I have to believe that when the band asked “What should our first single be?” ‘Giving Up The Gun’ was a close 2nd choice behind ‘Cousins’. It’s got a wonderful, new rock feel to it, but still maintains it’s “indie roots” which is a rare commodity in mainstream rock.
Whether or not you think ‘Contra’ is better, worse, or the same as their first album, its certain that this release shows that we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of what this band is truly capable of.