Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Vampire Weekend - Paired with The Stump Jump 2008

 Vampire Weekend's second album was doomed for criticism from the start. As the only band to ever grace the cover of SPIN magazine before releasing an album, Vampire Weekend gained a great deal of press as the best new band around. Their beach worthy tunes for the collegiate elite took the world by storm and the little party band that originated from Columbia University soon had an album on XL Records.

If there's one word that Vampire Weekend clearly holds dear, it's "unique." Their first album introduced a sound all their own and although Contra sees the band exploring the depths of the human ear with far more elaborate frequency landscapes, the distinctive Vampire Weekend resonance remains intact. Ezra Koenig's vocals are distinctive and sound nearly identically produced to their debut while everything around him changes.

It doesn't take long for Vampire Weekend to introduce their newfound complexity. The lead single, "Horchata," begins with a simplistic and instantly catchy verse, but quickly dives into a sea of percussion, rhythmic electronics, and vocal harmonies. On "California English," the all too overused Auto-Tune program becomes just another tasteful and appropriate instrument for the band to exploit. The entire album plays as a perfectly calculated blend of their original sound and a new direction making them easily recognizable, but giving their fans something special instead of more of the same.

Contra is not the instant classic their debut was, but if Vampire Weekend had just taken the safe road and released another album exactly like their self-titled debut, which I'm sure would have been possible for them, the result would have ultimately been boring and Vampire Weekend would have been dismissed as an old dog. Instead, Vampire Weekend is here to stay and I have no doubt they will continue to develop their unique style as the years go by.

So if you have never heard of Vampire Weekend, take a listen and share the experience with a glass of The Stump Jump 2008.

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