Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Half-assed record review: Vampire Weekend - Contra

I was going to say that without guitars, Vampire Weekend becomes too precious. Too cute, too island-y, too pop, too ..... something. But that's not true ... some of the best tracks on Contra lean almost completely to the electronic/laptop side of the equation.

Whatever it is, I don't like Contra nearly as much as the debut, and it's probably because singer Ezra Koenig doesn't have jack shit to say. His vacations were all sailboats and lobster and filet mignon, his education Ivy League, and his wealth (likely) trust-funded. And that lifestyle and the carefully chosen keywords peppered throughout the debut was the message itself: "I come from the East Coast and I am here to rock you like something quite less than a hurricane." But that's about the entire depth of Koenig's tale, and any attempt to branch out smells like fake crab meat. Nearly very lyric on Contra is all pretense and almost no meaning. What the fuck is "I think you're a Contra" supposed to mean? We are supposed to receive the sentiment as a mystery, words to be deconstructed, analyzed, eventually understood. I call bullshit. Ezra doesn't even know what the fuck it's supposed to mean. Of course it's soooo cool to be meaningless, but it distracts from an album chock-full of interesting percussion and keyboards (and too few guitars). But, of course, all this would be moot if Ezra dug up as many great melodies as were found on the debut. That's all we really want, if we're honest, and when they aren't there, we start looking at everything else in the room.
Contra is still playing in my car, but with every trip through the album, more and more tracks are being skipped immediately. Oh yeah, and sometimes it just sounds like ska, hahaha. C+/B-


A Mixed Tape said...

In some ways I agree, but the album is growing on me. I will say this, it will definitely fade as the year's music pool gets wider and deeper. There definietly isn't the depth on the debut. I've been thinking how elcetro this album is, like it is a mesh of their debut and what that one member of VW did with the Ra Ra Riot guy as Discovery.

To be quite honest, I didn't want that. Discovery was okay, but VW better. Now we have a Discovery-ish VW.

Warped Coasters said...

I had the sames thoughts re: Discovery.

I'd like to see VW make a more punk-orientated record, or one that at least ditches the Ivy League, transcontinental wordplay, vocab and pretense.

there is no excuse for rhyming "horchata" with balaclava" and "Aranciata," words that otherwise mar a perfectly good track.

A Mixed Tape said...

Sufer Blood isn't chillwave/glo-fi, and they aren't really ocmparable to Vampire weekend. But I've been listening to their new record (which is really great)and having read your comment, "I'd like to see VW make a more punk-orientated record," I think Surfer Blood may have offered us something that might sound like that. Check their track "Take It Easy" on their new album Astrocoast.

Or visit me blog for a tasted, by the way, please change me in your blogroll.


Warped Coasters said...

yeah surfer blood isn't glofi.

hey i see what your saying about "take it easy" sounding something like a more punk-orientated VW - a world rhythm, surf-y guitars, punk production ... although what are those strings? a fiddle? almost bluegrass?
I'm liking this record quite a bit on first reference, but I've only heard it once all the way through, and now this track for a second time.

A Mixed Tape said...

I was also just letting my iTunes shuffle and came acorss a song by the Postelles. Tehy released an EP in early 2008, and I think they are set to release a full-length this year. In my iTunes review I said they were a cross between Vampire Weekend and The Strokes. This may not be exaclty true, but back in Feb 2008 I sure thought it was. If interested, give this band a listen, and share what you think...