Contra by Vampire Weekend

“Contra” is a fresh, upbeat compilation of creative tracks from indie-pop band Vampire Weekend. This second album maintains the breezy, boppy feel the band established in its first self-titled CD. It also includes some African drums and xylophones that add to the cheery vibe.

The popular “A-Punk” and other singles first made Vampire Weekend famous. Recently, “Holiday” was even featured in commercials for Honda and Ralph Lauren.

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“Contra” strikes a perfect balance with fast-paced, bubbly tracks like “Giving Up the Gun” and “Run,” and mellow ones like “Diplomat’s Son” and “Taxi Cab.” Though the tracks have different tempos, the band maintains the same vibe throughout. In contrast to their first album, “Contra” has a slight techno spin. “California English” has synthesized vocals, but it works with the rest of the album because of the peppy electric guitar and harmonizing “ahhs” similar to those in “Horchata.”

From start to finish, the album is fantastic and the songs flow together nicely.

The first track, “Horchata,” is a great example of the African elements that the band uses so well. It starts with a toe-tapping melody and simple xylophone accompaniment. Suddenly, the chorus bursts out into bright drumming and celestial, resonating “ahhs.” “I Think Ur a Contra” is not as cohesive with the rest of the album. It features soft vocals and slow, playful piano riffs. Although it is a high-quality song, it might be one that listeners skip on their iPods.

Lyrics are another of Vampire Weekend’s strengths. Whereas many pop artists have prosaic, 2D lyrics about love, every track in this album tells a story with lyrics that are phrased in creative, whimsical ways. For example, “White Sky” describes a walk through the lively streets of New York City. The lyrics are accentuated by the falsetto melismas in the chorus. “Cousins” is about a kooky, chaotic family. This theme is emphasized by the frenetic pace and speeding electric guitar riffs.

Overall, “Contra” is fabulous and will appeal to many, especially fans of light alternative and indie-pop. The inventive lyrics, cheery melodies, and fresh, innovative style will draw many to Vampire Weekend’s sophomore album.

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