Reviewed by Jessica Hilo
Three years ago, Vampire Weekend embraced a self-ascribed ‘Upper West Side Soweto’ sound that helped to gentrify the hipster movement as much as American Apparel. Their latest album, Contra, available for free streaming on the band’s website, moves us beyond- providing a soundtrack for our youthful Diaspora as we age into the second decade of the 21st century. Not as radio friendly as their eponymous first album, Contra takes the best of Paul Simon’s Graceland period and mind melds it with the calypso sounds we’re used to hearing in hits like “APunk” and “Oxford Comma.” The result is a peppered Casio keyboard demo of abandon and introspection. It wants to be influenced by the 80’s Clash if only it were up to snuff. Wonders on deck include “Taxi Cab,” “I Think UR a Contra,” and single “Horchata.” Contra is a delightful, subdued, and ultimately underwhelming second that will serve to stand nicely in this band’s long career. The album hits stores January 12, 2010.