Wednesday, January 13, 2010
[8.4, XL, 2009]
Vampire Weekend is no doubt one of the best bands in the indie rock scene. They make catchy, fun, short, danc-y songs that almost anyone who likes any type of music can (and should) enjoy. I was pretty impressed when I first heard VW's music. (Woah, was that 2 years ago?) The jerky rhythm and fun string section to "A-Punk" was so new and interesting to me. Even though VW's self-titled debut came out in January of '08 I didn't actually buy it until July or August of that year. Of course I knew most all of the songs on the album by then from the radio and such but no doubt it's one you should own if you don't have it. This time I had to get "Contra" the day it came out.
"Contra" starts off with "Horchata." it may surprise some fans with all the electronic beats at first, but once you get into the song it's just as fun and catchy and any VW song. And the Marimbas are a nice feature as well. When Ezra sings about the "roots shooting up through the tool shed," the stings paint a picture in your mind of flowers growing. "White Sky" does the same thing. There seems to be a hand-clap sample and some more electronic sounds but is almost as great as track 2 on "Vampire Weekend," "Oxford Comma." Track 3 "Holiday" didn't really do anything for me at first and it has a bit of an annoying surf-y guitar part, but it'll grow on you. Ezra uses auto-tune on "California English," but it doesn't make the track any worse and he hardly takes a breath. This song contains the best VW lyrics to date: Sweet carob rice cake / She don't care how the sweets taste / Fake Philly cheese steak / But she use real toothpaste / Cuz if that Tom's don't work / If it just makes you worse, / Would you lose all your faith in the good Earth?
Taxi Cab slows down the record nicely after the exhausting vocals of California English. "Run" sounds like it could of found it's way on their last album but features a great horn section throughout. "Cousins" is the closest we get an "A-Punk." This is probably the song that sounds the most like the old VW record. But don't be faked out if you have only heard this song, the album is completely different. The end part with the bells is simply quite amazing. (Check Out when they played it on Conan, WoW) Giving Up The Gun is my favorite on the album and is the most accessible for fans of mainstream pop music. There is no guitar, not a real bass or drums (I could be wrong) but just keys and drum machine and brings to mind Afro-Pop. It's very danc-y as well. "Diplomat's Son" is the strangest track on the album. The M.I.A sample is cool as well as the Toots and Maytals reggae classic "interpolation" of "Pressure Drop." I hear some Animal Collective in the electronic sounds at the end too. It's almost like multiple songs in one. The last song "I Think Ur A Contra" is a really great song for the end of the album. Throughout the song Ezra continuously tries to sound too much like Dave Longsteth from the Dirty Projectors (He's good friends with Dave and thanks him in the liner notes) but regardless its a really great song. This album really lacks nothing. It's not as good as the first one but isn't worse at the same time. Rostam's string arrangements are amazing and the production by him is also great. It's really fun to hear Vampire Weekend's music because is so creative and inventive. There is a player below allowing you to play all the full tracks, and trust me, you won't be disappointed.
-Eliot Larson, January 13th, 2009.