~ Release group by Vampire Weekend


Release Format Tracks Date Country Label Catalog# Barcode
Contra CD 10 XL Recordings XL CD 429, XLCD 429 634904042929
Contra Vinyl 10 XL Recordings XLLP429 634904042912
Contra (iTunes) Digital Media 11 XL Recordings [none]
Contra (iTunes pre-order) Digital Media 12 XL Recordings
Contra Digital Media 10 XL Recordings XLDL 429
Contra 12" Vinyl 10 XL Recordings XL LP 429 634904042912
Contra 2×CD 10 + 3 XL Recordings XL CD 429 634904942908
Contra CD 16 XL Recordings XLCD429JX 4582214506876


artist & repertoire support: Imran Ahmed
Kris Chen
associated singles/EPs: Cousins
White Sky
Allmusic: [info]
Discogs: [info]
Wikidata: Q1859713 [info]
other databases: [info] [info]
reviews: [info]

CritiqueBrainz Reviews

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With their penchant for obscure grammatical references and African pop, Vampire Weekend always offered a little more than your standard indie-rock fare. Their hugely popular 2008 self-titled debut was chock-full of catchy guitar ditties, but while they clearly enjoyed romping through the frothy stuff this super-savvy NYC four were ultimately aiming for something, well, grander. And with cleverly constructed follow-up Contra, they are well on the way to achieving it.

Now, this beguiling ten-track work is short at just over 30 minutes long, but immediate it is not. Tasters Horchata and Cousins are probably the most hum-able of the lot. Where the album really comes into its own, however, is in the delicate arrangements and luscious production. It's not so much the melodies that stick in your head, but certain percussive interludes, Ezra Koenig's vocal gymnastics (tightly woven into the instrumentation) and the skilfully placed sumptuous string trill refrains.

It's hard to digest at first, but with repeated listens Contra becomes increasingly enjoyable and, in places, quite magical. Musical tricks pop up throughout: the playful climax of White Sky, the romantic Taxi Cab with its Chopin-esque piano, and Giving Up the Gun's astonishing mix of buzzing guitars, glockenspiel taps, electronics and choral harmonies.

Perhaps the highlights of Contra, however, are closers Diplomat's Son and I Think Ur a Contra. Both are quiet and slow-paced, but driven by the kind of enviable creativity that now elevates Vampire Weekend well above their peers. There is everything from M.I.A. to classical, folk and reggae influences in there, but the band make the resulting sound completely their own.

Prior to release, frontman Koenig told the music press that Contra is about "retro gaming and Nicaraguan politics," and it may well be - his poetic lyrics can be hard to decipher. What we do know, however, is that this latest offering ushers in an entirely new age for Vampire Weekend: one of wisdom, grace, subtlety and for the first time a really strong sense of identity. A thoroughly grown-up record, then.