Released January 11, 2010.
I’ll admit it. Had I seen this band prior to hearing them I probably wouldn’t have given them a chance. Silly, I know. Even as I began to want the first record by Vampire Weekend I was slightly off put by their discography, background and, yes, their look. Thankfully the music that I heard pulled me in. Theirs was a debut CD as good as any, still sounding fresh two years after its released. Their first, self-titled LP was like a musical sugar drop you placed on your tongue. Letting it slowly dissolve, you appreciated what you had and when it was gone you wanted another.
Flash-forward one year and the band released their second CD, Contra. I’ve been through this before. Fantastic debut, naff second attempt. Maybe in the time between releases your ears changed; the styles you heard were no longer ones that interested you. Perhaps your initial interest was a fad. Prior to the release of this LP I read a long profile in The New Yorker about the band. I liked the piece but didn’t buy the CD for a few weeks. Then I did. An dang if I didn’t play it over and over and over.
Generally when you obsess on a disc you listen listen listen and the stronger songs rise to the top, like the cream in fresh milk. Some songs you don’t like at first but then they come to you. For me there are only two songs on this disc that didn’t stick with me at once, and they came back to back. Now I really enjoy the songs.
The album is brief but lovely and for me it conjures up feelings of culture, interest and a pursuit of leisure that operates on a higher plane than the usual pursuits. This record, and the previous record, makes me want to send my children to school at Columbia in NYC. This is not simply due to the college’s placement in the first Ghostbusters film, but due to this band. See, these four upper class boys met at Columbia. And when I think of my children I think about them wanting to experience their formative and wonderful college years in a city with so much to offer, where everything, every genre is to be embraced and not rejected. A free atmosphere where the individual is allowed to make their own path through whatever artistic forest they want.
For me this CD contains many little moments that fill into a greater whole: the vibes and churn of “Horchata,” the high pitched chorus in “White Sky,” the sentiment and guitar of “Holiday,” the breathlessness of “California English,” the understated piano on “Taxi Cab,” the sequencing on “Run,” the downward roll of “Cousins,” that friggin “Giving Up The Gun” video, the cha cha chat sample of “Diplomat’s Son,” and the bareness of “I Think Ur A Contra.” Ten songs, ten songs that you want to hear again and again. Truly a magnificent disc.
(Now my clue from last week refers to the cover model for this release. Seems she signed a release form during her modeling days and has seen her image all over the globe promoting items with her face. This resulted in her not being paid.)