Vampire Weekend | Indie Rock | 37 mins
The first time I heard Vampire Weekend’s debut album was during a car ride. As I remember, it felt quintessentially youthful, with all the energy of the drums, the clean-yet-distorted guitars, and the lyrics, which seemed to be fractured speech from a Holden Caulfield gone Caribbean.
It lasted the long car ride — twice, and seamlessly at that. It was beautiful.
Such was the standard that the quartet is held to, ever since the leaking of songs like “White Sky” alerted fans that a new album was on the loom. The record’s singles, “Horchata” and “Cousins”, are a couple of fast and upbeat songs that seem to celebrate hints of Tchaikovsky and aggro-synth reggae alike. This would be “Contra” punchy, light and even a
It turns out that was only one side of the album. Songs like “Run” and “White Sky” followed in the footsteps of the musical feel of tracks like “Campus” and “One” from their debut. Tracks “Taxi Cab” and “Diplomat’s Son” pick up and extend the sounds of songs like “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” or “The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance” in soft ballads to soothe the blow of punchy lyrics that are as biographically charged as they are fiercely responsive to the criticism the Columbia grads often receive.
But I’d be a hard-put jerk if I said “Contra” is a mere extension of their earlier work. The band was very much aware of the pressure to keep the sound that won them a fan base large enough to go platinum in the United Kingdom alone, but they also knew the pressure of producing fresh sounds.
Vampire Weekend delivered with novelty and integrity, with no room for disappointment. They drew new lines in their music and new standards for their future albums. It’s exciting to come across a band that can expand musically without leaving their fan base out of the inside joke. Let’s hope they keep it that way.