Contra - Vampire Weekend
User Score
6.6

Generally favorable reviews- based on 506 Ratings

User score distribution:

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  1. Sep 3, 2010
    9
    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 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.
  2. Sep 9, 2011
    9
    "Contra" had the problem of impossible expectations. Fans want this, they want that.. and if they don't get it it's WW3. Not only does "Contra" do whatever the **** it wants, but it does it fantastically and with the same effortless poise and class at their landmark debut.
  3. Nov 3, 2011
    8
    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 little softer and more relaxed then their first album.
  4. Mar 8, 2013
    7
    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 to this band, but oh well.
  5. Aug 11, 2010
    8
    It is not as fun as their first album, and some of the songs are downright frustrating. 'Contra' is, however, a creative and catchy album that serves as a worthy sophomore effort.
  6. Dec 26, 2010
    9
    My favorite album of the year. Richer than their first and a great mixing of playful originality with accessibility. Haters, go back to listening to Motley Crue, then, or Battles, then, whatever your thing is. This is my kind of thing.
  7. May 7, 2013
    5
    I'm only giving it a 5/10 because I only liked half the songs on this album. My pick tracks (and the only ones I enjoyed): 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 11. Diplomat's Son being my favorite, and Giving up the gun also. Why did they choose that awful song as a first single?
  8. Oct 6, 2013
    9
    This album is excellent. While it's not as immediately accessible as VW's self-titled, Contra is just as good as that debut, and is quite rewarding over time. It provides the listener with a somewhat new variation of the band. Their electronic elements are increased here amidst the Afro-pop beats and guitar riffs, but they still manage to maintain their identifiable sound. And the songwriting is just as thoughtful, and dense as before. Ultimately, Contra is the sound of a band that has properly evolved. A simultaneously ambitious and catchy album. Expand
  9. Oct 2, 2010
    4
    What happened? Vampire Weekend's debut was of a style so fresh, simple and absorbing it couldn't help but collect masses of praise from critics and fans alike, yet they've somehow weighed themselves down in this second outing. Opener 'Horchata' and lead single 'Cousins' are full of such dizzying synth or percussion hooks you almost feel nauseous listening to them, while 'White Sky' is an uninspiring rip-off of Paul Simon's Graceland. The one high point on the album is 'Taxi Cab', which is actually one of the best tracks the band have ever written and the only example of them being able to replicate the beautiful harmony and delicacy of their debut while simultaneously being a change of style. The rest of the album sounds hideously like a Vampire Weekend tribute group that just don't get the sound. Expand
  10. Oct 6, 2010
    10
    One of the few albums I can listen to without changing track. It's far better than their first LP. "near-perfection"? What kinda music are you listening to?, coz it must be terrible.
  11. Nov 5, 2010
    8
    It isn't as consistently good as their first album, but this is still worth buying, it has a couple standout songs. I like that they didn't completely abandon what brought them initial success.
  12. May 25, 2011
    8
    Took me awhile to fully enjoy this album but to be honest, I kind of didn't want to like this band. I thought for some reason that this was a band that's lame to like. But I was sorely mistaken. From the catchy opener "Horchata" to there hit single :Giving Up The Gun", Contra is almost a flawless. Ezra Koenig's vocals are simple yet so perfect for these pop tracks. All In All, Contra is a great album that shouldn't go missed. B+ Expand
  13. Nov 27, 2010
    8
    "Contra" features many interesting catchy tracks like "Cousins", "Giving Up the Gun", "Horchata" and "Holiday". Maybe your children below age of ten may like this because it is so childlike, and maybe it'll be pass down to the next few generations too. Ezra Koenig & co. really know how to play funky music with their drums, guitars and keyboards.
  14. Dec 14, 2010
    3
    Better album than their last, but there's still something missing here. They just don't have the full sound they could on a lot of songs. The synths don't work as well for them as they think they do.
  15. Jan 16, 2011
    7
    Having despised their first album, I had no idea I would love Contra as much as I do. But Vampire Weekend has managed to take everything I hated about their debut and turned it into a much more likable sound.
  16. Oct 15, 2011
    8
    Vampire Weekend's playfulness from their debut album continues delightfully on "Contra". Although one may feel that they're rehashing some of the formulas they captured the first time around, they have vitality and inspiration all the way through. Highlights, as "Holiday", are songs you'll be humming long after you've turned off the record.
  17. Feb 1, 2011
    9
    This might be an album that has to grow on you a bit but after a few listens I got hooked. I think this second album is even better and a little deeper musically than their previous album. Lots of great tunes here and my personal favorites are Holiday, White Sky, and Cousins. The only track i felt was weak which is why i rated 9 is i don't care too much for the song California English. It was a bit goofy but none the less a solid album! Expand
  18. Nov 12, 2011
    9
    Not nearly as good as their self titled debut album, but still fantastic non the less. The only tracks that didn't catch my fancy very much were California English and Run, otherwise, the album is pitch perfect. VW returns with their fun, upbeat, and unique sound.
  19. Jul 31, 2011
    9
    this album was excellent. the singing and songwriting were good. the album showcases their musical ability. and they are fantastic. white sky and taxi cab are great songs. diplomat's son as also a winner
  20. Jul 1, 2011
    10
    I don't see why this album is so harshly judged by so many. It seems superiour to original in basically every possible way of comparing the two. The reason why the original album was so strong was that every there were no weaker song and all were instantly likeable from the first listen. This album seems the same, with the possible exception of California English which wasn't instantly likeable, but I am now a fan of. How Contra differs is that it has much more depth than the debut, with the final three songs being so much greater than the sum of their parts. I really see it being very close to infallible, as there really isn't anything notable I can find to criticise...


    While I find it impossible to ever pick a definitive "favourite album", Contra would be one of the three albums that get down to the "you can't make me choose between them" stage.
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  21. Jul 8, 2011
    10
    I think that this album contains any magic effect on me, when i listen songs like diplomat's son (a relly fantastic song). Cousins, Horchata, Holiday and Giving up the gun offers diversity into his own style and interpretation of music. A beautiful continuation o his debut album.
  22. j30
    Jan 30, 2012
    7
    The album Contra definitely builds off of it's predecessor (Vampire Weekend), but it is still kind of bland in some areas.
  23. May 15, 2013
    10
    This album was not at all a sophomore slump, but a great second album of Vampire Weekend. This album from the beginning of Horchata, which perfectly invites and draws in the listeners to hear more to the last track, "I think ur a contra" which perfectly ends the album. The highlights of this album are "Horchata" "White Sky" "Holiday" "Taxi Cab" "Giving up the Gun" "Diplomat's Son" and "I think ur a Contra" Expand
  24. Jan 7, 2012
    10
    Here's the thing: I didn't really like their first album all that much. "Oxford Comma" was nice and all, but the rest of the album was just a bit twee and insubstantial for my tastes. What makes Contra such a great record is that it packs much more of an instrumental punch than it's predecessor, while deftly maintaining everything that people love (and hate) about Vampire Weekend. It's smarter, too: whereas the self-titled seemed naive and precious - and thus a wide-open target for it's legions of critics - Contra, on the other hand, seems proudly defiant. Tracks such as "Horchata" and "Holiday" encapsulate everything haters love to spout about, but this only contributes to the fact that these songs are, in fact, catchy as hell and extremely well done, as is the rest of the album.

    Over all, an enormous improvement over their so-so debut, and one that is capable of both nuance and the blissed-out excitement that put them on the map in the first place.
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  25. Jun 19, 2013
    8
    Contra doesn’t completely manage to worthily follow up their surprisingly good debut, but is really close to their self-titled first release two years ago. The New York indie band has maintained their nebulous lyrics and experimental music style that takes reggae, ska, baroque, Afrobeat, and so many other weird types of music that most likely aren’t even named, and throws them all into one single song. This definitely needs getting used to, but if you’ve listened to Vampire Weekend before (which if you haven’t done, you’ve really missed an important new band), then you should be accustomed to their unconventional kind of music and should have great fun with this CD straightaway. Just like Oasis, Arctic Monkeys, or so many other popular alternative rock bands out there, the band members oftentimes aren’t sure about their songs’ meanings themselves which gives the listener dozens of interpretations on the 10 songs that Contra offers us. The phrasing is intelligent plus lovely to hear and the four guys are totally personable. Therefore, just like with their entrance in the big music business, Contra isn’t a real musical masterpiece, yet an endearing album that you will think about a lot and will immediately want on your iPod. After all, it’s only contra is that most tracks just aren’t as catchy as the songs on Vampire Weekend. Expand
  26. Nov 18, 2012
    10
    Just as good as the first. To me, it feels like they got the good things in their eponymous debut album and mixed it with electronic aspects, creating something even more unique.
  27. Nov 2, 2013
    9
    [9.3] Contra has a lot of things that Vampire Weekend clearly wants, and clearly recognizes that they didn't have them before. Their debut was self-admittedly pure fun, and while the songwriting was smart, catchy, and generally accessible, it was clearly an exhibition of influence. They wanted very much to get right in your face, and tell you "look at what we know." There is certainly no problem with having influences, but with their debut, they didn't have the right attitude to support their ideas. They wanted to have fun, and more importantly, they wanted other people to have fun. They didn't make music for themselves, which is generally the undoing of many great bands. Contra is a an experiment of self-realization, and it has a whole f*cking lot of character to realize. Their influences are absolutely still there, but now they actually know how to use them. Instead of just saying "look at what I know," they say, "look at what I know, and look at how I'm using it." Now their influences have purpose, they use fun, generally not well-known African pop beats and show how they can be beautiful, rather than just fun. The result is great, and sometimes even nostalgic. One might get the feeling of driving on a tropical island listening to some eccentric Afro-beat, which is almost reminiscent of some video games (or specifically, Far Cry). The sound is distinct, instantly recognizable, and greatly rewarding. While it isn't a reflective album, it doesn't need to be. It's an album about growth (themed appropriately), and most importantly, self-satisfaction. Vampire Weekend passes the test that all new bands struggle with and usually can't figure out. They know what their place is, and they don't care what their audience thinks it is because they don't have to, and they know that. Expand
  28. May 12, 2013
    9
    In my opinion, this is easily their best album. The collection of songs are stronger than those of the debut album and the band has produced some brilliant catchy tracks. Overall the album is a near-masterpiece.
  29. Apr 29, 2013
    6
    I loved the Vampire Weekend debut. It was a slick combination of indie rock, baroque pop anthems and surf rock guitar riffs. Contra, at it's time in 2010, was a highly anticipated album that some say had too much hype than it should have gotten. To be honest, I agree. There are some tracks on this album that I absolutely loved, (Take Diplomat's Son, and "Cousins"), and some that were so-so. To be honest, I only like about half of the track son this record, the others grew on me. I'm giving them credit for building on their own sound, and again, I really really love some of these tracks, however, that's only half the package.

    It just never grew on me. 6/10
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  30. Oct 7, 2013
    9
    A solid showing after the brilliant self-titled album. Contra isn't always right on the money, but more often than not the songs will grow on you, and you'll be a huge fan of the album in time. Vampire Weekend experiments a bit more in this album, but sticks to their sound, and they pull it off. Not as good as Vampire Weekend, but just as good in it's own way. A solid album from Vampire Weekend!
  31. Jul 10, 2013
    9
    The second album has really great songs throughout! I really liked their first album and Contra definitely doesnt disappoint! My fave tracks on the album: White Sky, California English, Cousins
  32. Nov 25, 2013
    8
    This is one of the most unique albums I've heard in recent memory. Maybe even of all time. How an album this adventurous reaches #1 on Billboard is a mystery.

    Apparently Contra refers to four things. On the surface, this record's about a breakup. On top of that, he's added stuff about an 80s videogame called "Contra", Nicaraguan politics, and an album by the Clash called Sandinista!
    that he quotes and references several times throughout. What the I don't give a about Nicaragua, old videogames, or the unsatisfying follow-up to London Calling. Why would you load your album with all that?

    But that hardly matters. What I get from this is some guy who's been into all of these things recently and needed to put them all under one umbrella, using the word Contra to bring them together. I can't blame him for that; he's just writing about what he knows. In fact, his mind jumping around random subjects makes the central part of this the breakup aspect a lot stronger. It seems counterintuitive considering the other stuff would DETRACT from that, but to me it doesn't. The last track, the only one without all the Clash/Nicaragua/videogame bull****, is incredibly satisfying whereas in any other setting it would be a blowoff of a breakup song.

    Now this is definitely a departure from Vampire Weekend's self-titled debut, but that's a good thing. I liked a lot from that, but it's not too revisitable. Fortunately, improvements have been made in the right places. The falsetto has been laid off except on the last track, where it fits. There is little to no filler on here. The incomprehensible lyrics are still incomprehensible, but actually do flow with one another.

    You're a pretentious band, but that's what you do. You've done absolutely everything to improve on your last record.

    I give this an eight out of ten, almost a nine, but not quite one. I hoped it would be higher considering all the great stuff I've been hearing. But it's good enough, and a must-listen for anyone.

    STANDOUT TRACKS: HORCHATA, HOLIDAY, CALIFORNIA ENGLISH, TAXI CAB, COUSINS, GIVING UP THE GUN, I THINK UR A CONTRA
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  33. Dec 25, 2013
    9
    One of my favourite albums of the 21st century. It combines their upbeat, feel good music with a distinct African vibe. Very well written and composed, I highly recommend this.
  34. Jan 23, 2014
    10
    Contra is a bright, bold, fun and exciting 2nd album from Vampire Weekend, where there aren't really any bad songs at all, and no rough patches. This is a clean, and limitless nearby masterpiece.
  35. Mar 30, 2014
    10
    My favorite album of all time. This is a true masterpiece. Vampire Weekend perfects their style that was revealed to us with their debut. I can't even give a standout song because they're all flawless and perfect. Everybody who's in to indie rock, alternative, or even trying to get into alternative, owe it to themselves to hear this. A true masterpiece.
Metascore
81

Universal acclaim - based on 39 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 34 out of 39
  2. Negative: 0 out of 39
  1. 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.
  2. Contra is a solidly entertaining, well-constructed album, and if people take to it, the tendency to mock the band will, I think, fade, simply because it doesn't have obviously unfashionable moments to feel uneasy about.
  3. If Vampire Weekend was Rushmore, Contra is their Royal Tenenbaums: brainy, confident and generally awesome.