Album Review: Contra proves quad more than weekend success

After a two-year wait, Vampire Weekend released their sophomore album, Contra; a breezy, more mature follow-up to their first album that maintains the fun, witty feel of the band that fans grew to love in the first place.

When the album was released on Jan. 11, 2010, it debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, the band's first No. 1 release to date.

The first single off the album, "Cousins," is a dizzy, two-and-a-half-minute burst of energy, complete with expert guitar riffs from guitarist Rostam Batmanglij and obscure, yet catchy lyrics from singer Ezra Koenig.

While loyal fans of Vampire Weekend may long for the simpler days of "Oxford Comma," they are certainly not missing out on any of the signature cheeky personality for which the band is famous. In the song "Diplomat's Son," they experiment more with worldly, African sounds, but still manage to keep their original pastel, polo shirt feel.

Aside from experimenting with varied cultural influences, Vampire Weekend uses the auto-tune effect that has been increasing in popular music recently in the song "California English."

Koenig demonstrates his skillful vocals on songs such as "White Sky" and "I Think Ur a Contra." In the first, the falsetto acts as a highlight among the verses, but in the latter, the song rides on the light, fluttery vocals.

If you're looking for an album to beat the gray New York winter, this is certainly the album for you. Especially in the song "Run," listeners feel like they can escape whatever it is that's bothering them, as Koenig croons, "Cause honey with you / Is the only honest way to go," and, "It struck me that the two of us could run."

The added touch of horns during the breaks in lyrics create a warm, familiar feeling that reminds us of why we fell in love with the band after hearing the delicate keyboard introducing us to "Mansard Roof" off their first album.

Contra is definitely more fast-paced than the band's self-titled debut album, but it's an artful change. The members of the band play up their individual talents in conjunction with utilizing the changing musical technology.

Vampire Weekend gets a lot of slack for making their music too preppy and too ironic, but it is a welcome change from the thumping club beats and whiny pop records that have dominated mainstream music lately. The band should be applauded for sticking to their original intention and vision rather than selling out.

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