Contra - Vampire Weekend

XL Recordings

It sounds like Vampire Weekend could use a vacation. Not that Contra, their long-anticipated sophomore release sounds burned-out. On the contrary, there is more sun worship and contempt for east coast winter in its tracks than in a Travelocity commercial. Neither has the band grown tired of the global rhythms that set their Passport Rock apart from the over-crowded indie scene. From the opener, Horchata’s woody buzz of marimba and the itch of its chimey Nigerian/South African Highlife guitar, Vampire Weekend part the clouds and take us to warmer climes. Singer Ezra Koenig shares a beachside dream in Holiday, cabin fever in Run and the misery of a Manhattan winter in White Sky; his Paul Simonesque tenor floating above the polyrhythms. Long is the list of indie artists who embrace reggae’s loping, one-drop to add some solar energy to their tunes. But, on Contra, Vampire Weekend venture far deeper into the tropical heartbeat, toying with Jamaican dancehall, Brazilian baile funk, Bollywood bhangra and Zimbabwean mbira beats. Christian Lander, author of Stuff White People Like can tease Vampire Weekend as being “the whitest band”, but Contra confirms their commitment to playing with, not at ethnic melody and measure. If white kids in suburbia are turned on by black hip hop, maybe Vampire Weekend can open their ears to a much bigger and brighter world.