Artist: "Vampire Weekend"
Genre: Indie Music
Review: Vampire Weekend is a band that definitely didn't fall into any "sophomore slump". If anything, Contra is a stronger album than their self-titled debut. The album is a mostly upbeat, insanely catchy and fun collection of reggae sounds and African beats. Interestingly, this album is also riddled with lyrical references to The Clash, which only endears it further to me. In fact, the title of the album can be taken as a clear counterpoint to The Clash's Sandinista!, though the sound of the album is certainly not at odds with the strongly reggae-influenced Clash.
The album opens with the infectious "Horchata", and within the first few seconds you will know if this is your kind of music or not. The second track, "White Sky", has singer Ezra Koenig straining his voice to what I can only imagine must be its limits with his high-pitched cooing. It's certainly fun to listen to. "California English" features the only use of auto-tune that doesn't make me want to barf my own eyeballs. It's subtle enough in the context and style of the song that they totally make it work...somehow.
"Run" features interesting, jerky rhythm section accompanied by upbeat horns, later joined by textured keyboards. "Giving Up the Gun" is probably my favorite song on the album--it has a beat that can't help but capture your attention, and I love how it gets noticeably more complex as the song builds up. That's another thing about Vampire Weekend--with most bands I tend not to pay much attention to the drummer's contributions, even though I do appreciate them, but with Vampire Weekend the drumming and percussion always seems an integral part of the song, sharing equal importance with the other instruments. "Diplomat's Son" is a slower, very reggae song that references Joe Strummer and is textured with a sample of M.I.A. singing choppy "cha-chas" in the background from the song "Hussel". I love the sound of Ezra's voice as he punctuates certain lines with "oh ohs". There are also a couple cool sections in the middle where everything slows down and it sounds like a broken video game.
The year 2010 is a little early yet to start picking favorites--to say such at this stage wouldn't really mean anything, but I will say that if this album is any indication of the quality we can look forward to this year, then I am definitely excited to discover what else is in store for us as 2010 progresses. This may well get bumped off my favorites list before the year ends, so for right now let's just call it "a damned good start".
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)
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