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contra LP

4.3 out of 5 stars 63 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Vinyl
  • Label: XL
  • ASIN: B003YWA9SE
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Sample this album Artist (Sample)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Some reviews of "Contra" have come with the qualification that Vampire Weekend's second album is not the fun packed neo African rhythm monster of their infectious debut. The new album is indeed a much denser and fuller work its less "Upper West Side Soweto" and "preppy college" rock and takes its cue from a broader musical palette. Nonetheless the departure is not overtly radical in a Noah and the Whale "First Days of Spring" sense and on balance "Contra" remains tremendously upbeat.

The thing about Vampire Weekends debut was that it came out of leftfield like the proverbial bolt from the blue; it was intelligent and inventive stuff and seemed to be an active partner to that other uber smart record of that time MGMTs "Oracular Spectacular". Erza Koenig's lyrics were witty and songs like "A Punk" could soundtrack romantic comedies.

While the essential features of the Vampire Weekend sound are here this album is noticeably different to signal progression. But is it better or worse for this?

Overall the sheer hedonism of their debut is missing which may not be a negative. You can have too much of a good thing and the band must develop. Not that the first track "Horchata" suggests a radical new departure. Indeed this could have happily sat on the debut while "White Sky" sounds like it could be included on a remix album entitled "Graceland with Synths". At a pinch so could have "Cousins" but which nevertheless shows how the band is maturing. It's the most frenzied guitar driven song on an album which relies more heavily on percussion and synths. Clocking up 2.25 minutes it's a great choice for a single.

Firmly in the "different" category are three songs. Firstly the albums clear highlight is "Taxi Cab".
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Blending poignant, self-aware lyrics with a wonderful backdrop of lush melodies, poppy beats and synth beats, Vampire Weekend's `Contra' is one of the most impressive and enjoyable records of recent years. Opening with the bright, bouncing beat and Beach Boys-esque backing vocals of `Horchata', a paeon to Spain's sweet drink, the album begins as it means to go on. It's an album split between the extrovert and the introvert, and the latter are combined in a dizzying wander through the exciting, imposing streets of New York, in `White Sky', where the experience "all comes at once", in a song permeated by the whoops and calls of the backing vocals. There's barely a mis-step on the album, and the following tracks `Holiday', a vibrant, day-glo evocation of the wait for a "summer's day", and the catchy, globalisation-focused `California English' lead the album well, into it's middle section. After these four tracks, the album seems to go a little more low-key, and somewhat more downbeat; with the beautiful tale of failed love that is `Taxi Cab', and the album's weakest track (though still worth a listen); the jerky escape-fantasy of `Run'. The album also experiments a little more towards the close; with the almost ping-pong beats of `Diplomat's Son', and the softer closer `I Think Ur A Contra', which fades to give Ezra Koenig a chance to showcase his vocals, which are almost as impressive as the music itself. `Contra' is indeed, one of the freshest and most listenable albums around; and has a bit of everything, from Carribean-sounding beats, to laments of love, and jerky-off beat, pop-punkish beats (seen best in `Cousins').

Whilst the album has come in for some criticism; some of it more valid than others, I feel that as a record I love strongly, it needs defending in some aspects.
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Format: Audio CD
It was at a similarly chilly time of year back in 2008 that Vampire Weekend released their eponymous debut album. Unseasonably warm, afro-infused pop had my toes tapping for the rest of the year and it remains an album to put a smile on the face. The naysayers accused the Ivy League graduates of being too clever with their lyrics about obscure punctuation and architectural features and even of cultural tourism with the African musical influences (let's be honest - if you removed the African musical influences from pop music you'd be left with...well, Chas 'n' Dave. And they've just split up). Personally, I grew up listening to Paul Simon's Graceland so I have no problem bouncing about the room to that kind of thing and I have been looking forward to the release of their sophomore effort.

Opening track Horchata will be grist to the mill of the doubters with its subject (a Mexican rice drink) and rhyming - balaclava and aranciata to name but two. For the converted, along with tracks like White Sky, Holiday and the guitar driven Cousins, it is a track that could have come from their previous album, providing more of the same if that's what you're after. Where they depart there are some huge hits and perhaps the odd miss. Some of the tracks that had me worried on my first listen have already become amongst my favourites. One still remains at the risk of being skipped each time though. One day some kind of judicial process will bring Auto-tune to trial for crimes against music but until that time we will have to endure more experiments with it like California English. It is followed however by the beautiful Taxi Cab in which frontman Koenig employs those beautiful, effortless, Paul Simon tones, backed by strings and later harpsichord. How's that for Ivy League!
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