by Vampire Weekend


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The scholarly Upper West Side Soweto of Vampire Weekend's debut sounded self-assured, but on Contra, they step out of their ivory tower with just as much confidence. In all senses of the term, this is a sophomore album. The band still flaunts the collegiate sense of discovery that made Vampire Weekend charming -- and sometimes too precious -- but with more maturity and creativity. Another Discovery is just as much of a force on Contra as any of the band's much-noted influences (Afro-pop, Paul Simon's Graceland): Rostam Batmanglij's electro-hip-hop-pop project with Ra Ra Riot's Wes Miles, which released its album LP after the pair found acclaim with their day jobs. While Vampire Weekend aren't as shiny and sugary as Discovery, some of that adventurousness rubbed off on Batmanglij's Contra production, which plays to the band's biggest strength: inspired juxtaposition. The album's artwork, which pairs a blonde WASP princess in a popped-collar polo shirt with the term given to Nicaraguan rebels, hints at the flair with which Vampire Weekend play mix-and-match on Contra. They throw listeners into the deep end with "Horchata," which features a four-on-the-floor beat, thumb piano, rubbery synth bass, and massed harmonies -- almost everything except the spry guitars that helped define their first album. "California English" goes farther, tweaking Ezra Koenig's yelp with Auto-Tune, the bête noire of those who value "realness" in their music; for Vampire Weekend, it's just another instrument for them to play with. On paper, Contra's hybrids seem more contrived than they actually sound: "Giving Up the Gun" fuses baile funk, house and stadium rock into a sweet melody propelled by choppy rhythms. "Diplomat's Son" is even more far-fetched and fantastic, adding samples of M.I.A. and Toots & the Maytals -- exactly the kind of things you'd expect to hear on a young globetrotter's iPod -- to nostalgic chamber pop. The album bustles with so many sounds and ideas that it challenges listeners to decide where to put their ears first, particularly on the single "Cousins," a blur of guitars and jump-cut drums that sounds like abstract punk. Despite this busyness, Vampire Weekend are looser and less cryptic than on their debut, allowing them to tell stories like "Holiday," an Iraqi war protest set to skanking guitars (ever the font snob, Koenig can't resist mentioning a headline in "96-point Futura"). Even the few quiet moments are complex: "I Think UR a Contra" closes the album by wanting, and hating, the kind of privilege that brings "good schools and friends with pools." And though the band is committed to change, the same joy that soared through Vampire Weekend pops up on "White Sky," which boasts a melody so irrepressible that Paul Simon just might want to borrow it. With Contra, Vampire Weekend make Auto-Tune and real live guitars, Mexican drinks, Jamaican riffs and Upper West Side strings belong together, and this exciting lack of boundaries offers more possibilities than anyone could have expected.

Product Details

Release Date: 01/12/2010
Label: Xl Recordings
UPC: 0634904042929
catalogNumber: 40429
Rank: 32352

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Vampire Weekend   Primary Artist
Mauro Refosco   Percussion,Marimbas,Shaker,Shekere,Zabumba
Shane Stoneback   Shaker
Nat Baldwin   Double Bass
Jonathan Chu   Violin,Viola
Marcus Farrar   Percussion,Shekere
Jeff Curtin   Shaker,Hand Drums
Rostam Batmanglij   Synthesizer,Guitar,Piano,Drums,Harpsichord,Keyboards,Vocals,Background Vocals,Snare Drums,Hand Drums,Vocal Harmony,Group Member
Chris Baio   Synthesizer,Bass,Background Vocals,Group Member
Hamilton Berry   Cello
Ezra Koenig   Guitar,Piano,Keyboards,Vocals,Group Member
Christopher Tomson   Drums,Group Member
Anne Donlon   Vocals
Libby Gery   Vocals
Seth Rosenfeld   Cello

Technical Credits

Shane Stoneback   Engineer
Tito Fuentes   Engineer
Justin Gerrish   Engineer
Rostam Batmanglij   Composer,Lyricist,Producer,Engineer,String Arrangements,Sample Programming
Chris Baio   Composer
Ezra Koenig   Composer,Programming,Lyricist
Christopher Tomson   Composer
Tod Brody   Cover Photo
Chris Tomson   Band Photo
Jesse Novak   Instrumentation

Customer Reviews

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Contra 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I absolutely love this cd!!  I've had it for a couple of years now, and still love every song on it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Vampire Weekend's album, Contra, is a fun and orignial album that you enjoy listening to simply because it makes you feel good. Their lyrics and upbeat combinations make you want to dance, but are not like much you have heard before. I thought at first they were like a combination of Paul Simon, Jack Johnson, and a little techno mixed together. They have a very rhythmic beat that reminds me of some of Paul Simon, 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover or You Can Call Me Al, but have a sound that is totally original at the same time. I enjoy the newer sounds that they produce, and it is refreshing to have something so different making its way to a larger audience. I highly recommend the Vampire Weekend album.
Artistwriter More than 1 year ago
We purchased after hearing one song on Alt Nation/XM Sirius. Vampire Weekend is definitely going places if they produce more music like this! Can't wait for more...
DavidWhite More than 1 year ago
An excellent follow-up to their self titled debut.
Eharper More than 1 year ago
This is worth buying. I dont usually like every song on a cd, but i really enjoy it. Check out all of my other recommendations as well, you wont be dissapointed.
PatriceAZ More than 1 year ago
I found myself praying that this CD would not be the standard sophomore slump and I believe my prayers were answered! Vampire Weekend's second album Contra brings some new things to the table. When I first heard "White Sky" at their tour in 2008 I found myself wanting more! So, when I found out that Contra was going to be released I rushed to my computer to pre-order the album. Upon first listening to the album I recall feeling very put off by Vampire Weekend's new sound. I kept wondering, where are the melodies of Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa, where are the African inspired guitar riffs? So I forced myself not to compare it to their first album, which if you have not purchased it yet then shame on you for that album is amazing! But I digress, Contra, after a few listens, really began to grow on me, just as Vampire Weekend's first album had. The playful marimba and xylophone rhythms of "Horchata" start the album off on a light note the other songs continue to grab your attention from the numerous rhythms to Ezra's thought, and sometime dictionary look up, provoking lyrics. While all the tracks are great, listen to "Run" which starts out with a rock-a-billy guitar melody, I highly suggest listening to "Diplomat's Son" which is one of my most favored tracks. There is so much going on in this song, starting off with an atmospheric melody mixed with a sample from M.I.A., in the middle of the track come a brake and seamlessly falls into a Rastafarian rhythm that stops you dead in your tracks but quickly jumps back to the upbeat rhythm of the song, I am not going to lie, I kept rewinding that portion of the song to listen to the brake over and over. I could listen to that song numerous times and find a new rhythm, beat, or lyric that I did not hear before. That is what makes Vampire Weekend so amazing you can listen to their songs numerous times and still find something new in either the lyrics or the music. Let Contra grow on you and I promise it will not disappoint!
carla89 More than 1 year ago
I listen to their song "cousins" on the radio I like it but still had no clue who they were. I kinda had the song stuck in my head so I went there to pick up a cd i resevered and saw their cd Contra staring at me so I thought why not listen to see what else they have. I listen to the first 30 seconds of each song and I loved it! They have this electric and tropical touch. Perfect for summer too! All the songs are catchy and you'll find youself humming in class or at work like I do! If the second cd is good than the first should be good too!
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