CD Review: Vampire Weekend, “Contra”

Written by CD Reviews, Music

Vampire Weekend are back with a second batch of worldly pop, but is it any good? Michael Parr has the review.

ContraIndie rock’s relationship with the blogosphere is, at best, fickle — something Vampire Weekend has learned all too well. On the eve of the release of the band’s sophomore release, Contra (XL Records), the tastemakers who catapulted the band to the world stage have spent the last two months lambasting the apparent lack of growth displayed in the jaunty first single, “Horchata.” Rife with 8-bit driven calypso, the track retains the sensibilities of the group’s self-titled debut while adding a super-sized injection of electropop. But let’s face it: the majority of the backlash has little to do with the music, doesn’t it?

Yes, these are the same boys that wore out their copies of The Rhythm of the Saints and Graceland. And yes, they still look like they just stepped out of a J. Crew catalog. The music, however, represents a leaner, more succinct take on the band’s strengths. From the wiry punk charge of “Cousins,” which features one of the most frenetic bass lines served on a pop record in the last ten years, to the minimalist “Diplomat’s Son,” which recalls multi-instrumentalist/producer Rostam Batmanglij’s side project Discovery, the band dances around inside its box, but never steps outside it.  The thing is, it’s a pretty big box — and an indeterminably fun one at that.

To put it simply, if you didn’t care for Vampire Weekend before, chances are, Contra is not going to change your mind. If you were on the fence, this is a fun record that might just have you popping your collar on your Ralph Lauren polo shirt.

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