With their new album, Contra, Vampire Weekend had big shoes to fill: their own. The huge popularity and cult following amongst university students has raised expectations to almost unmatchable heights.
With their self-titled debut album, Vampire Weekend came out with a unique style of music that was upbeat, cheery, and appealing to virtually everyone under 30. The ability to identify with the band members plays a large role in the overall appeal of a band, and the four young, vibrant, hyper-literate Columbia students make Vampire Weekend a favourite among university crowds.
Contra, from the Latin root meaning opposite, clearly represents Vampire Weekend’s move against becoming mainstream music. Indeed, the band does not hesitate to explore new musical forms. Some succeed, such as the whispered song – like “I Think You’re a Contra” – which comforts the listener like a lullaby. Others aren’t as gripping and are even rather disturbing, such as “California English,” which sounds like a fast-forwarded chipmunk on ecstasy. Don’t cringe too much, hardcore fans, they do stay true to their joyful music with songs like “Giving Up the Gun,” “Horchata,” and “Cousins.”
This album, like their previous work, is all about good vibes. Their sound echoes groups such as Phoenix, but the energy they produce is more reminiscent of The Beach Boys. Overall, despite a few disappointments, the album is successful in cheering you up, whether first thing in the morning or after a long stressful day.