Vampire Weekend’s Contra: Two Cent Review

Artist: Vampire Weekend
Album: Contra
Label: XL
Release date: January 12

Pretty music for pretty kids. While I don’t despise Vampire Weekend as much as Buddyhead, I also can’t side with the zillions of indie-rock sites that are bowing down to this band as if it were the second coming of Pavement. It’s sweet that indie-rock has taken such a warm-and-fuzzy turn in recent years. But where’s the bite? Pavement sure had one, and if you’re looking for newer acts, take Made in Mexico: They’ve seized reggae (and Tropicália) and recast it as a rebellious and sinister. Vampire Weekend, on the other hand, seem about as consequential as (and sound like) a girl yodeling to herself. No matter how much they sell.

What rings truer than Contra is something Bloodshot Records co-founder Rob Miller pontificated to me in an interview last year: “I wonder if music is getting under people’s skin the way it used to. … In 20 years, will Pitchfork be having Vampire Weekend do their great body of work? Or will they just cycle through?”

Whether or not they do cycle through, Contra doesn’t get under the skin by any means (although Ezra Koenig’s vocal affect – “hot chowder” becomes “Horchata” – and use of the vocoder on “California English” sure are grating). Nor does it make a case for Vampire Weekend deserving a lasting legacy.

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