Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Will Dana on Vampire Weekend

"For their 2008 debut, Vampire Weekend whipped up a new pop formula by fusing Paul Somon's Graceland with the touchstones of preppy ennui — Cape Cod summers, collegiate grief, crushes on girls with trust funds. The music had a bracing smartness, as overdetermined and detailed as a Wes Anderson movie, almost perfect for what it was, but you wondered how they'd handle the real world. Just fine, it turns out. If Vampire Weekend was Rushmore, Contra is their Royal Tenenbaums: brainy, confident and generally awesome. Where much of the first album's charm was conceptual — Ivy League guys mashing up J.D. Salinger and King Sunny Adé — here the band has put on some muscle. The drums are bigger, the guitars are faster, and the songs are outfitted with synth beats and hip-hop, reggae and electro accents. 'Diplomat's Son' sounds like a cross between classic rock steady and an M.I.A. mixtape; Ezra Koenig Auto-Tunes his voice over dancehall on 'California English.' The band even takes a stab at arena rock on the synthy 'Giving Up the Gun.' … The album ends with the brutal, orchestral quiet of 'I Think UR a Contra.' … It's powerful and disconcerting" ("Reviews," Rolling Stone, 1/21/10, p. 56).


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