by: Dusty Aunan
On the opening track, “Horchata”, front man Ezra Koenig belts, “Here comes a feeling you thought you’d forgotten” like somehow he knew that we’ve missed Vampire Weekend’s joyous Afro/Indie/Pop/Rock fusion since their eponymous debut. A pounding drum line paired with echoed choruses of “oh!” make this track an album standout.
Contra brings Paul Simon’s Graceland into the 21st century with heavy drums from percussionist Chris Tomson that add depth to a shallow pop world. “Holiday” seems to have fallen from the same tree as “Gumboots” while the guitar part on “Cousins” is completely reminiscent of “I Know What I Know”. This song is also a roller coaster follow up to “A-Punk” from the group’s previous record with a quicker tempo and sharper teeth. A synth flurry and sparse-beat verse make the splashy chorus of “White Sky” sound like a celebration of youth.
“I Think Ur A Contra” closes the record with a journey through haunting piano, contemplative strings, and optimistic guitar in which Koenig sings about moving on from a past relationship with a seemingly stuck up girl. Other album highlights include “Giving Up The Gun” and “Run”.
This all adds up to a pop record with a vivid atmosphere that doesn’t feel at home in today’s music scene but is too busy dancing and hitting on smart girls to feel bad about it. With their two current albums, these Columbia University grads have begun to forge their own intelli-pop genre complete with syncopated rhythms, orchestral sounds, and lyrics about anything from punctuation to rebellious sons of diplomats. The guys of Vampire Weekend have truly stepped into their own as pop innovators and crafters of feel-good jam outs.
Here’s to not forgetting this feeling again anytime soon.