• Record Label: XL
  • Release Date: Jan 12, 2010

Universal acclaim - based on 39 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 34 out of 39
  2. Negative: 0 out of 39
  1. With Contra, Vampire Weekend make Auto-Tune and real live guitars, Mexican drinks, Jamaican riffs and Upper West Side strings belong together, and this exciting lack of boundaries offers more possibilities than anyone could have expected.
  2. Contra may not propose much of a rebuttal to those who thumbed their nose up at the band's past work, but it's not difficult to see how it could strengthen their core audience while netting them some new fans at the same time.
  3. It's like they've spent the past two years building a bionic version of the band--not only brighter and tighter, but weirder. The group nurtures its eccentricities and the result is a record full of them.
  4. Uncut
    Bold, beautiful and carefully contrary, it's an album by a band in complete control. [Feb 2010, p.77]
  5. Q Magazine
    Compared to the mulch churned out by far too many, Contra will cut through most of the stuff on the radio like sunshine through clouds. [Feb 2010, p 100]
  6. Mojo
    Contra is the sound of a band driving themselves to very satisfying extremes. [Feb 2010, p. 96]
  7. If Vampire Weekend was Rushmore, Contra is their Royal Tenenbaums: brainy, confident and generally awesome.
  8. Under The Radar
    These songs become more appealing with each spin. And despite the influences, the sound transcend. [Holiday, 2009, p.77]
  9. The 10 tracks appeal more with every play: initially sounding a bit like Paul Simon's Graceland being covered by 90s geeks They Might Be Giants, they will probably be among this year's most played and most joyful tunes.
  10. It's fair to say that with so much going on 'Contra' is much less immediate than its predecessor, requiring a bit of patience to uncover its true shades, contours and charm. But it's certainly worth sticking with, because with their second album Vampire Weekend have escaped their collegiate niche without sacrificing their true essence.
  11. There are some mis-steps--California English employs Auto-Tune about two years too late--but overall this is a fine follow-up to their successful debut.
  12. The 10 songs here don't collectively match the near-perfection displayed on the band's debut, but Contra is varied and vivacious enough to make each spin as revelatory as the first time you realized what the band was getting away with and how well it pulled off the feat.
  13. 80
    Contra is more fully formed, a '70s-style record-type record. It's their version of the Talking Heads' "More Songs About Buildings and Food," the disc on which they see how well their gold-star ideas move.
  14. With the band now a known quantity, sophomore album Contra inevitably lacks the slaphappy dazzle of breakout singles like ''A Punk'' and ''Oxford Comma.'' Still, the album, recorded in Brooklyn and Mexico City, stays largely faithful to the sound they've built.
  15. On their second LP, the youngsters don't disappoint.
  16. Ezra Koenig's songwriting is effortless and breezy, and the Afropop rhythms are as strong as ever.
  17. While Koenig rarely shies away from scholastic lyricizing, Contra succeeds apart from its cultural asides and college textbook hat-tips.
  18. Vampire Weekend's willingness to write an album of exciting new material, rearranging the very core of the sound they've come to be known for, will be maddening on first listen for those who loved their debut--but those who stick it out will discover that there's a more mature, innovative band in its place.
  19. As the watery floating of "I Think Ur A Contra" draws the album to a close, it becomes clear that not only did the members of Vampire Weekend succeed in creating an excellent sophomore album; they've managed to survive long enough to outlive their hype and its attendant backlash.
  20. The songs are meatier and dimensional, emboldened by whirling electronics, taut guitar solos, harder drums, disparate textures and moods, and a lyrical self-awareness that perhaps life isn't just one big basement dance party.
  21. With a mix of frantic and scrappy pop songs alongside blankets of processed peacefulness Contra is a fun and always intriguing listen.
  22. The New York quartet works its way out of that corner on its meticulous sculpted sophomore LP, Contra, branching out with tangents into kinetic ska-punk ("Holiday," "Cousins") and hyper dancehall music.
  23. This is a much, much more consistent album, it's got nothing as immediate as "Mansard Roof" or "A-Punk", and it moves a little toward the pop end of their sound, but other than that it's business as usual.
  24. It's ironic and ill-fitting that such ditch-hopping actually embroils them in impassioned debate--and it's a credit to them that, love or hate these songs' lack of drama, you'll remember them very, very well.
  25. It's music that balances with uncommon elegance the desire to observe with the need to engage.
  26. Vampire Weekend's penchant for throwing an occasional obscure reference into their work doesn't change the fact that Contra is an obvious early contender for one of 2010's best.
  27. 80
    Contra is cohesive and concise; it may have the effervescence of California, but it is over in a New York minute.
  28. Although some songs ("Taxi Cab" and "Holiday" especially) can make it seem like just another, nicer sweater to knot around our necks, the other word I never expected to use here is perhaps the most important for a young band of VW's talent: better.
  29. Vampire Weekend's second album, Contra, finds the New York-based band pushing its eclectic, intellectual indie rock further using a mash-up of musical genres, clever wordplay and emotional heft.
  30. Contra is still a Vampire Weekend album and it's certainly one that past fans will presently like. It may be less vigorous, but only if you're searching the surface.
  31. Contra flourishes in its effort to ease up on "A-Punk"'s stiffness as the quartet engages in sonic experimentation of unprecedented playfulness even compared to the debut's.
  32. Any fears that the zippy Afro-pop of these New York-based hipsters was a novelty--so very 2008--are quickly dispelled on this confident and completely entertaining second album.
  33. New York prepsters stick to their Paul Simon-goes-indie formula on successful second album.
  34. Contra establishes that his band has chosen another path, celebrating the world's contradictions, contraindications, and contradistinctions with a new pop sound made up of old pop sounds that aren't the same old pop sounds.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 565 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Sep 3, 2010
    Definitely more of a "grower" than their first. Songs like White Sky and Diplomat's Son make it well worth the invested time, though. All theDefinitely more of a "grower" than their first. Songs like White Sky and Diplomat's Son make it well worth the invested time, though. All the haters on here seem to be comparing them to other artists, but they're unique. They're not trying to be Paul Simon. That's what makes them so great and also apparently what bothers those who want a category to lump them in. Full Review »
  2. Mar 8, 2013
    The first one was better. The amount of good songs to bland songs is kinda even. Nothing horrible either, idk, why there is so much hate toThe first one was better. The amount of good songs to bland songs is kinda even. Nothing horrible either, idk, why there is so much hate to this band, but oh well. Full Review »
  3. Nov 3, 2011
    Very fun album, although you have to let it grow on you. Vampire Weekend's self-titled album is still better than this one, though. A littleVery fun album, although you have to let it grow on you. Vampire Weekend's self-titled album is still better than this one, though. A little softer and more relaxed then their first album. Full Review »