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Vampire Weekend - Contra (Cover Artwork)

Vampire Weekend

Vampire Weekend: ContraContra (2010)
XL Recordings

Reviewer Rating: 4
User Rating:


Contributed by: Mrdogg45Mrdogg45
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Contra makes me realize that I am a hipster. One of the most tried and true moves in the hipster playbook is backlash. It's an important one, because it (a) establishes credibility about a band (i.e.: "Vampire Weekend? Yeah, I saw them back in 2007 with like 10 people at some college party up in .
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Contra makes me realize that I am a hipster.

One of the most tried and true moves in the hipster playbook is backlash. It's an important one, because it (a) establishes credibility about a band (i.e.: "Vampire Weekend? Yeah, I saw them back in 2007 with like 10 people at some college party up in Hartford. Their album hadn't even come out yet, it was so authentic.") and (b) allows for the "I-liked-them-before-they-were-cool" elitist backslide. Backlash is the musical equivalent of the one-night stand: like a band once until they get cool, then jump off the bandwagon to seem cooler than the rest of the plebes who are just catching on.

I've felt myself slipping into preemptive backlash mode twice. The first time was before the release of Forgetting Sarah Marshall (long, stupid story) and the second time occurred in the weeks leading up to Contra's release.

Considering how many of my other favorite blog bands had burned me in the past on sophomore releases (Cold War Kids, Tapes 'N Tapes, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah), I felt I had a right to be skeptical towards four preppy dudes who made tight pop songs that sounded like Paul Simon.

Just like with Forgetting Sarah Marshall, I am pleasantly surprised to report that Contra is an album that is every bit as good as Vampire Weekend. Even if I am a hipster douche, I can still recognize one of 2010's better records.

The biggest change between this album and Vampire Weekend is the production. Keyboardist/guitarist Rotsam Batmangllij is all over this record, covering songs like "White Sky" and "Giving Up the Gun" with layers of programed drums, keyboard bloops and synth bleeps. Seems like his work with side project Discovery had a pretty big impact on the band's current sound.

While it can be a little disarming to hear so many digital elements that it borders on overproduction, these songs work because, at their core, they are just well-written, catchy, breezy pop songs. If you liked the first Vampire Weekend record, there is no reason not to like Contra, which boasts some immediate hits and some slow burners. For example, "Cousins," the well-traveled second single for the record, is a frantic, goofy, kickass pop song in the same vein of "A-Punk" and one of the album's most immediate tracks. Then there are songs like "Taxi Cab" and "Giving Up the Gun," tracks that take a few listens to stick but make them all the more satisfying once they take.

Really, besides the hype and the newfangled production, the album is a spiritual continuation of Vampire Weekend's sound. Both albums have songs to hook a listener. Both songs yield new benefits with repeat listens. Both albums make for kickass party music. Both albums feature the best indie pop being made. Sure, this album sounds a little less like a full-band effort because of all the keyboards and synths, but that doesn't take away from the strengths of the songs.

Putting things down makes people feel cool, and feeling cool is always a big temptation for people who obsess over music. I urge anyone interested in Vampire Weekend to overcome the urge to backlash and give Contra a fair shake. The rewards outweigh the cool feeling one gets from being a dick.

 

 
People who liked this also liked:
The Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!The Clash - London CallingThe Gaslight Anthem - American SlangAgainst Me! - As The Eternal CowboyDead to Me - Cuban BallerinaThe Gaslight Anthem - Sink or SwimThe Hold Steady - Stay PositiveAlkaline Trio - GoddamnitRefused - The Shape of Punk to ComeNOFX - The Decline

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Levendus (April 18, 2011)

Great album, great review.

TSOL (May 21, 2010)

I enjoyed the album

MyStereoHasMono (January 20, 2010)

Contra > Super Contra > Castlevania > Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse > Dracula Sucks > Vampire Hookers > Vampire Weekend

chokingvictim (January 20, 2010)

love it

supertomato (January 20, 2010)

if you take the overly-precious Horchata out of the album this thing is really amazing musically.

ffwoodycooks (January 20, 2010)

album is solid.
but leave Hartford out of this. i have a hard enough time defending CT.

bongsmcj (January 20, 2010)

i thought this record was really underwhelming/empty/boring.. the self titled record was great. im just going to go out on a limb and say that i liked them when they were cool.

crackpotdemagogue (January 20, 2010)

"Blah blah blah, I saw Susan Boyle before she was huge!"

haha! amazing!

evildeadalive (January 20, 2010)

What the hell does them being white have to do with anything? Aren't most of the bands on this site white? Is that bad? Is it because they are rich? What if they were rich black kids?

Haven't heard this yet, but I am glad to hear it getting good reviews. Loved the first and was kinda scared this one wasn't gonna live up to it.

usversusthem (January 20, 2010)

This record is awesome. Surprisingly a serious improvement on the already very solid self-titled.

wallofyouth (January 20, 2010)

"I can still recognize one of 2010's better records"

fair enough, i guess i'd rather listen to this than You Me at Six too

lostandclowned (January 20, 2010)

First paragraph is great.

Misanthropee (January 20, 2010)

Chances are if you self-identify as "hipster" you aren't one, but are still an insufferable douche.

pitchforkwriter (January 20, 2010)

This guy's views on hipster backlash and namedropping about how you saw a band 10 years ago in a dingy club before they became huge sounds like every one of ChadReligion's posts. "Blah blah blah, I saw Susan Boyle before she was huge!"

Homie, you're a punk rock hipster.

jimmynorville (January 20, 2010)

did you look at Jason Segal's dick before it was cool or something?

I wanna hear the Forgetting Sarah Marshall story because I like that movie.

NYblowhards (January 19, 2010)

keyboards and synths

dont belong

in wokanwool

NYblowhards (January 19, 2010)

r

d

c

Dante3000 (January 19, 2010)

You did reviews for the Hold Steady and Death Cab for Cutie and THIS made you realize you're a hipster?

Anyhow, I should probably listen to this. I've heard lots of really good things about it but the first album really didn't grab me in any way.

colin (January 19, 2010)

awful review

d_boons_ghost (January 19, 2010)

I liked it!

A_Lan (January 19, 2010)

I honestly thought this album was a lot better than their first, don't get me wrong both are amazing though. This record just shows some maturity. One thing I noticed is that they don't have nearly as much guitar parts as they had on their last album, or maybe i just don't recognize the guitars. Either way its a great album and a must buy for anyone into the indie music scene.

bradc930 (January 19, 2010)

Yeah, the shit talking about this band is generally really stupid.
Saying that just because you're a rich white kid means you have no interest in music is one of the most retarded things I've ever heard. I don't think that has much of anything to do with it.

If you've heard it and you don't like it that's fine, but a lot of people that bitch about Vampire Weekend haven't even listened to it and don't give the music a chance.

I don't know what's so wrong with shutting the fuck up and just listening to music because you enjoy the music.

greg0rb (January 19, 2010)

Not in love with it yet but it is growing on me. The jump up in production quality shook me, especially drum-wise. I kinda liked the sloppy, lo-fi-ish drum sound on the first album. These songs are great, but as great as the first is yet to be seen.

stevejonestherealbones (January 19, 2010)

"rich white kids making "hip" music for the sake of making hip music... no emotion at all... fuck this band"

LOLOLOLOLOL @ Adrianalallalalla

ok, rich shouldnt really be an issue, there is nothing wrong with being rich...

ok, white shouldnt really be an issue, there is nothing wrong with being white...

what is wrong with making the music they want for the sake of making the music they want? isnt that why anyone makes music makes music?

..anyway, i havent heard this faggy record yet

- jones the bones

stecvejfnjudemail.com

noah (January 19, 2010)

people whining about "hipsters" is so overdone

get over it

and whoever complained about this band being rich white kids with no interest in music: do you know this band/the backgrounds of those in the band? Just because they dress a certain way doesn't mean they're trust fund babies

overdefined (January 19, 2010)

"feeling cool is always a big temptation for people who obsess over music."

Yeah? I would say that feeling cool is always a big temptation for people who obsess over being cool. Sometimes "being cool" involves music.

Also, maybe liking a hype indie band's second album instead of a backlash-like response IS the hip new things to do.

eazyd2 (January 19, 2010)

this band may be catchy but their shit get boring after like 2 listens. also vampires are fuckin gay as shit.

dreeeamweaver (January 19, 2010)

the existence of a republican senator from massachusetts makes me realize i'm a hipster.

dreeeamweaver (January 19, 2010)

the fact i ate a wheel of cheese today made me realize i'm a hipster.

dreeeamweaver (January 19, 2010)

the fact i'm reading a vampire weekend review made me realize i'm a hipster.

i-type-poorly (January 19, 2010)

Good album. So far past the notion of "hipster" or any kind of "if you listen to this - you are this kind of person" baggage. It's all nonsense.

Anyways, yeah, good album. Not as immediately catchy as the first, but still a cool mellow companion. Run is fantastic.

Adrian (January 19, 2010)

rich white kids making "hip" music for the sake of making hip music... no emotion at all... fuck this band

noah (January 19, 2010)

Great album, better than the first

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