Ramy Zabarah, Broadside Correspondent

Since their sudden appearance in 2008, Vampire Weekend has been one of the more unique bands in the indie rock scene.

Their self-titled debut album brought them the popularity such a group could only dream of having, especially considering New York City has no dearth of local indie bands.
And with popularity comes great responsibility.

Contra, the band’s second album, does not disappoint. In fact, it only gets better with each listen. A huge step up from the self-produced first album, Contra has the same indie pop sound with the same African influence reminiscent of Paul Simon’s Graceland with a fuller, more mature and better-produced mix. Not to mention electronic drums!

Vampire Weekend can be defined by their unique use of percussion, distinct guitar tones and lead singer Ezra Koenig’s raw vocals. Fortunately, none of these have been compromised.

The opening track “Horchata” is a soft, percussion-heavy song that is sure to put you in the mood to sit back, relax, and do absolutely nothing but sip on your favorite drink and wonder where your worries went.
Did I already mention electronic drums? Vampire Weekend doesn’t shy away from them. But instead of taking away from the music, they add to it. Contra brings the perfect blend of synthetic and analog instruments.

“California English,” the fourth track on the album, displays instrumentation rarely used well in music Auto-Tune. That’s right, the technology made popular by artists such as T-Pain, Kanye West and Lil’ Wayne has now found its way into indie pop.

The album’s lead single, “Cousins,” is an up-beat track that is sure to make you want to dance.

The eighth track, and one of the record’s best, “Giving up the Gun,” has the strange ability to make you want to fall asleep on a beach while simultaneously prompting you to dance around in your seat.

The perfect combination of soothing melody and up-beat percussion makes for a wonderful morning commute song. I say that from experience.

The album is also one big pop culture reference, mostly to the 1980 Clash album, Sandanista!

The Contras were a right-wing resistance group opposite the Marxist Sandanista National Liberation Front in late 1970s and 1980s Nicaragua. The Clash’s album refers to that.

In addition, Koenig cites the 1987 video game “Contra” as another influence for the name of the album.
If you’re looking for a light listen with just the right amount of pep, this is the album for you.