Jan 7, 2012Here'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.… Expand
Mar 30, 2014My 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.… Expand
Sep 3, 2010Definitely 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.… Expand
Nov 27, 2010"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.… Expand
Nov 25, 2013This 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… Expand
Published: December 6, 2010Throughout the next two months, we'll be tracking the year-end Top Ten lists published by various music sites, magazines, and more. Find out which albums are currently in the running for best album of the year.
Published: April 10, 2010With the second album from MGMT arriving in stores this week, we take the opportunity to explore how other bands have fared after releasing a successful debut. Is it possible to have a good second album?
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