Vampire Weekend – Contra

Vampire Weekend made their long awaited return to the music scene last week with the release of their second studio album, Contra.

More than two years after the eponymous Vampire Weekend, the New Yorkers have retained their unique African style and produced another unarguably original masterpiece.

In place of their musings about English punctuation are beautifully crafted pieces such as ‘Horchata’ – a Valencian (or Mexican, depending on your research) hangover cure. A free download on the band’s web-site, the album’s opening song features Thom Yorke’s marimba player Mauro Refosco.

The band’s novel approach to musical arrangement stands out once again with Rostam Batmanglij’s keyboard excelling – particularly in the aforementioned ‘Horchata’- and complimenting Ezra Koenig’s infectious voice. This is not to take anything from either of the Chris’ – Tomson or Baio. Contra is as, if not more, thoughtfully constructed as their debut and grows on the listener with each play.

Vampire Weekends absolute refusal to fall into a genre once again intrigues, with Specials-like ska evident in ‘Holiday’ and even dancehall overtones in the rather lengthy for VW (at 5mins 59secs) ‘Diplomat’s Son’.

A music magazine-style guided tour through each song would spoil the experience, especially for dedicated Vampire Weekend fans as each track contains its own exclusive intricacies and the charm of each tune should be discovered independently.

Two years spent touring the world and working in their infamously tiny Brooklyn studio have served the former college boys well. Although clearly not as accessible as their self-titled first album, ‘Contra’ rewards the listener for persevering and uncovering its hidden delights. Those looking for quirky tunes such as ‘A-Punk’ and ‘Mansard Roof’ will however be duly disappointed.

‘Contra’ has topped the US album chart and looks set to challenge for the top spot this side of the pond, Vampire Weekend will embark on their UK tour at the start of February.

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