Some of the best music comes from bands that have hit the top 3 in the albums charts but haven’t come close in terms of singles, and Vampire Weekend is a good example of this. An inventive mix of plenty of different styles of music, ‘Contra’ – their second album (incidentally I haven’t bought their debut album yet) sounds weird and higgledy-piggledy on the first listen, but I grew to like it and appreciate its originality more and more on the second and third listens.
Perhaps the most staggering element of the album, is that it manages to incorporate so many different styles of African, reggae, classical and other genres of music into an indie rock framework within a time of just 36 minutes. Most of the songs are only 2 or 3 minutes long (one or two of the longer ones, like Diplomat’s Son, are actually rather boring). Yet even the slightly tedious ones are original, intelligent as well as being catchy and memorable as well.
The album kicks off with ‘Horchata’, an original, catchy and slightly strange worldbeat song, with elaborate use of African-style percussion. Other highlights include the tunefully baroque-pop song ‘Taxi Cab’, the rather more poppy and very memorable ‘Giving Up the Gun’ and the anthemic bonus track ‘Giant’. But there’s no song on the album I would actively warn against.
The lyrics are rather interesting but it isn’t very clear what they mean or whether they mean much at all. As one reviewer remarked, they probably are the first band ever to rhyme ‘horchata’, ‘balaclava’ and ‘aranciata’, but you don’t really sense much meaning or structure to the lyrics.
But overall, Contra is well worth buying and is completely original and different to other modern rock albums. I would thoroughly recommend it.