Album Review: Contra by Vampire Weekend (again)

13 Jan

Yesterday, Ashley reviewed Contra by Vampire Weekend and inspired me to listen to it. After hearing the band’s self-titled debut from 2008, I wasn’t sure there was much hope for them. Occasionally, they showed glimpses of catchiness, but quickly ruined the show with horrendous lyrics posing as deep and thoughtful, horrendous instrumentation posing as “diversity”, and horrendous singing posing as … god knows what. But with Ashley’s review in my mind, I thought I would give Contra a chance. Could Vampire Weekend redeem themselves?

Vampire Weekend - Contra cover

With a cover like this, what do you think?


They don’t redeem themselves. However, the most egregious moments of the debut are gone. It must be said that Contra is a more listenable effort; the band show more focus, especially on the vocal melodies. Some of the hooks are executed a little better, though they have little purchase and the songs are immediately forgettable. I’m still not sure they entirely know what they want to sound like, but they have a handy dandy Stereotypical Indie Filter to put their assorted ideas through. A recent upgrade to this filter is presumably responsible for Contra, especially its first six tracks, possessing more consistency and cohesion than the debut. Undeniably this album is the place to go if you need a fix of indie cliches.

I must make note of the lyrics. Those of you who have suffered through political science, sociology, or literary criticism courses in university will know what I’m talking about. You know that guy who is always trying his hardest to look tremendously deep, erudite, and creative despite the fact he’s not? The sort of person who writes essays full of meaningless pseudo-academic buzzwords that other people just don’t “get”; the sort of person who submits poetry to the university magazine that basically amounts to an incoherent selection of vague references thoroughly doused in the vomit of a thesaurus; the sort of person who thinks masturbation is a sex life; the sort of person who you cannot possibly imagine holding down an actual job. Yeah, he wrote the lyrics to this album. They’re pretty awkward, dense without substance, and convey almost nothing.

In 2008, Vampire Weekend were the flavour of the month, or perhaps just a couple of weeks, and then everybody forgot about them. Look for a repeat in 2010.


Sorry, Ashley.

One Response to “Album Review: Contra by Vampire Weekend (again)”

  1. bono212 13/01/2010 at 07:35 #

    Haha, no apologies necessary, I feel almost exactly the same way, but for some reason love the album in spite of it. Great review.

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