Vampire Weekend – Contra

My first album review of the new decade and it’s an album from a  band that irritates me in an unexplainable, unreasonable way.  Back in ’07 my buddy Ken and I went to the Rickshaw Stop to see our favorite Swedish band at the time, Shout Out Louds. My first time at Rickshaw Stop; we walked in, fought our way through the underage kids to the bar, got a drink and went upstairs to chill and wait for the headliners.  Before the opening band took the stage I asked Ken if he’d heard of these guys and he mentioned they did a killer cover of some Cure song.  I said they had a cool name.  Then Vampire Weekend took the stage.  Some kids in sweaters making cutesy pop music.  They sounded more like a weekend at the playground.  We went out for a smoke, snuck our friend Danielle into the venue, drank some more and then enjoyed Shout Out Louds.

A year later you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing about those damn Vampire Weekend prep-rock kids.  Why were they being hyped so much?  Because they threw some afro-beats into their indie pop?  Wow!  Ground-breaking!  This should not have gotten to me like it did.  But then again, sometimes I’m a little irrational about completely meaningless subjects (Jay-Z).  So when the album came out, I would not give it a chance.  And I was happy to spew out my disapproval whenever anyone told me they loooooved Vampire Weekend…and have you heard Vampire Weekend…what do you think of Vampire Weekend?  Ahhhh!

But the sad truth is, they had a lot of good songs.  Sure, they were too poppy, too cutesy, too….just too everything.  But they were catchy.  Almost every song on that album became a hit and I had to admit they were all pretty good.  But they just weren’t as good as everyone made them out to be.

Pitchfork opened their review on their sophmore album with “haters will still find plenty to hate about Contra, and they’ll hate it with vigor” and then gave it a 8.6 and Best New Music title.  Oh man, I had never looked forward to hating something more!  And dammit if these kids didn’t take that away from me as well.

I like this album!  Shit!  I liked it on the first listen!  I liked it on the second listen!  And I am half way through my third listen as I write this!  It’s good.  And it’s good because they have gone even further into what they are.  It’s hooks are cuter than their debut; the cheesy world-influences are deeper and more prevalent; it’s gotten even further away from rock music and even closer to straight up pop.  Ezra Koening even does his best Dave Longstreth impersonation on I Think UR A Contra and I still can’t hate this album!  Why is this good?  Because they now sound like Vampire Weekend and not like a million other bands.  By having that last album of songs ingrained into my head, I now realize they are original, and because they are original, I can stop hating on them.  I can admit that this is good music for what it is.  I imagine bands will start to come out that sound like Vampire Weekend.  These guys are not some flash in the pan like I imagined (or hoped).  This is not music I can listen to all the time, but it is fun…and no one else is doing it quite this way.

The only complaint I have is this should have been a summer release.  Horchata is the perfect backyard BBQ song (especially if you have Guatemalan mirimba players in your backyard) and every track on the album just screams to be played loud while drinking icy, fruity drinks in the sun.

One disclaimer, I can’t guarentee this album won’t get on my nerves as the year goes on, but for now, I have think I have come around to the Vampire way.

They are out on tour as well and will be coming to The Odgen here in Denver on Friday, March 19th.  I will be in Austin for SXSW, but if you are in town, I think this might be a good show…if you can get past the sweaters!

  4 comments for “Vampire Weekend – Contra

  1. Megan Hochstatter
    January 13, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    Kevin- They got under my skin too. Im now looking forward even more to the second album. Thanks for the review!

  2. Mel
    January 13, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    Ok so do you know anything about Hallelujah Chicken Run Band? I have read two different reviews elsewhere on Vampire Weekend and in both places they cited them as an influence…. Now I’m curious.

    • January 13, 2010 at 4:58 pm

      I had not heard of them Mel, but I just did a quick search and it looks like it was a Zimbabwean band formed by a guy named Thomas Mapfumo. He took traditional music and mixed it with modern rock. Sounds like Vampire Weekend, only they take modern rock and put some traditional music twists on it. If you do like the ‘world’ aspect of Vampire Weekend, check out a band called The Very Best. They lean more toward the African-side of things but definitely sound like American pop music.

  3. January 13, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    This web site is actually quite good, but for some reason it does not display properly when trying to view on my Nintendo Wii. If it helps, the console uses the Opera browser and am forced to using the console for accessing the Net whilst my PC is away being fixed.

Comments are closed.