A sophomore album wasn’t going to be easy for the entitled lot behind prep-pop band Vampire Weekend. Their self-titled debut was instantly successful with the picnic crowd, but suffered from over-saturation.
Admirably, Contra isn’t a knee-jerk response to their debut’s detractors. They haven’t altered what worked two years ago. Ezra Koenig’s songwriting is effortless and breezy, and the Afropop rhythms are as strong as ever. The lyrics still explore subjects of concern to privileged Ivy League boat-shoe wearers. The song Holiday focuses on fonts, while reggae track Diplomat’s Son, which samples M.I.A., is about gallivanting with diplomats.
Koenig said he chose the album title as a nod to video games, from which Rostam Batmanglij’s synth work also borrows, and because of a fascination with Nicaragua and the Sandinistas. Western leisure versus world crises. Remind you of the Clash? Yeah, that’s on purpose.
Top track: White Sky
Vampire Weekend play Sound Academy on March 30.