There is something irritatingly brilliant about Vampire Weekend and the success that has followed them around from the second they appeared on the Stereogum and Pitchfork blogs.

How can the ‘Whitest Band on the Planet’ also be one of the more successful stories of the internet?

In the current era where the nerd is king, at least according to the world of Judd Apatow, it is perhaps not so surprising to see Ezra Koenig’s face adorning posters on college walls, and his band selling out tours wherever they go.

After some festival appearances at the tail-end of last summer (one of which was at Pukkelpop in Belgium which this writer was privileged to experience) to whet the appetite for a return, Vampire Weekend release their second full length lp, Contra.

Just like their eponymous début, this album eschews all logical rationale. The first taster was Horchata, a song describing Ezra’s favourite drink: a Spanish concoction of tigernuts, water, and sugar. It is as far removed from ‘rock music’ as it is possible to get.

Yet, it is such an appealing song that, just like Oxford Comma and the like before it, you can’t help falling for its charm. ‘In December drinking Horchata, I’d look psychotic in a balaclava. Winter’s cold is too much to handle, Pincher crabs that pinch at your sandals. ‘Couldn’t imagine the likes of The Coronas coming up with something like that.

Some of the tracks here have been doing the rounds for a while after live airings on the late night shows in America and on the road. White Sky was showcased on Jimmy Fallon’s show in March 2009.

Anthems are a hard thing to come by and lately bands have been trying to get a single defining song with a big sing-a-long moment in it. Kings of Leon have tried it with Use Somebody, and even Sugababes have tried it with About A Girl. White Sky contains warbling that will really put fans’ voices to the test when it becomes the festival staple of choice this year.

One of the standout tracks is California English, but whether this is a good thing is a different matter. Vampire Weekend are known for their bordering-on-plagiarism use of influences. Paul Simon is the obvious touchstone due to the use of African instruments. But is T- Pain the current inspiration? Auto-tune makes an appearance on the aforementioned track and it is the first grating moment of Contra.

Run and Cousins quickly rescue the situation before VW remind us what they are capable of with the astounding Giving up the Gun. A story of chasing dreams and making fantasy reality, it pinpoints the reason why Vampire Weekend are adored by millions. They make the impossible possible. If they, a band who don’t drink or do drugs, with their love of preppy Tommy Hilfiger jumpers, can succeed in a world where leather pants and a love of Satan used to be the norm, then anyone can chase a dream no matter how far-fetched.

Contra is a difficult album to love. Perhaps less catchy than their predecessor, it could force a backlash. As we enter a new decade though, what better soundtrack than a band with worldly influences whose success is difficult to pin down. As long as they keep pushing boundaries, slowly but surely, they could have a longer shelf-life than most would have predicted.


Vampire Weekend- Giving Up the Gun