In an era where Internet buzz bands come and go, consistency matters. More importantly, listeners want progression. On their sophomore effort “Contra,” Columbia grads Vampire Weekend deliver on both ends. In 2008, the quartet exploded onto the scene with a debut self-titled album, producing four hit singles.
On “Contra,” the familiar Paul Simon “Graceland” era vocal phrases and indie-pop hooks still dominate. However, a further mesh of surf-rock guitar solos, frantic synth beats, chugging power chords, head bobbing disco and African polyrhythms point to a steady evolution.
“White Sky” shows definite maturity with intense interplay between vocals, synthesizer and flawless tracking of background harmonies. The toe tapping “California English” is cheapened by lead singer Ezra Koenig’s use of auto-tune. Though the album may not deliver a single akin to “A-punk,” the anthemic “Cousins” comes close. A dash of wooden percussion, punk rock and psych-folk enliven the track.
Lyrically, the album addresses the ambiguity of seemingly black and white decisions implict in today’s dominant power structures. At the same time, it drops light-hearted quips about hanging with cousins and smoking joints with the offspring of diplomats.
Though “Contra” may not create lasting waves in the music world, it makes a great soundtrack for any college party or study session.