REVIEW: Vampire Weekend - Contra
Zach Hart Sunday, January 24, 2010
Vampire Weekend - Contra
Release Date: January 8th, 2010
“Bad art is more tragically beautiful than good art 'cause it documents human failure." -Tristan Reveur
"AY AY AY AY!” -Vampire Weekend
The first quote sums up how I feel about Vampire Weekend’s recently released Contra and the world that allowed it to reached number one on the charts. The human failure you see, is not restricted to the tunes of Vampire Weekend, but the millions of fans that consider this quality music worthy of money…in a recession no less. If you read our blog, or know me personally, then you understand I don’t hold back opinion. Before I rip into this album, I want to make it very clear that an opinion concerning the quality of art can’t be wrong. You might consider this to be a 10/10 masterpiece. That is not wrong. I might then consider you a damn fool. This as well, is not wrong. Now that we have that figured out, allow me to explain why this is the biggest piece of trash since ________ (Fill in with any of Eddie Murphy’s last three movies). By the way, the second quote reminds me why the world is falling apart.
(AY AY AY AY)
“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.” Immediately I know from opening track, Horchata, that this is an everyman band that fills its wonderful songs with relatable narratives. We’ve all drank exotic beverages while wearing ski masks and hanging out on Hampton beaches in the winter. Wait a second now reader. I’m not saying that all art has to be relatable, but I haven’t seen this amount of celebration at ones own ego/elitism in art since Triumph Of The Will. Exaggerated example, yes. Point has been made. I get it Vampire Weekend. Your lyrics are abstract with their double meanings/definitions. What you must understand is the fact that abstraction in all art forms only works if the interpreter (in this case the listener) can evoke an emotion from that which doesn’t have an obvious answer.
(AY AY AY AY AY)
This is what frustrates me the most folks. This album tries to have its Paul Simon Cake and eat it too. They tell these ‘complicated’ stories but highlight certain words to make the abstraction work against itself. Take the masterpiece California English. The clearest words of the song are: Private Schools, Alps, Contra, Contra, Contra, LA, Philly Cheese Stake, Toothbrush. What the hell guys? (Zach motions over his shoulder) Come on kids, let’s take a closer look at this:
Wouldn’t ever gag you with a spoon, my only true love
Never really heard you speak that way, it’s unworthy of…
Funny how that little college girl called language corrupt
Funny how the other private schools had no Hapa Club
Someone took a trip before you came to ski in the Alps
Your father moved across the country
Just to sunburn his scalp
Contra Costa, Contra Mundum, contradict what I say
Living like the French Connection, but we’ll die in LA
STOP RIGHT THERE GUYS!
“AY AY AY” – Guy in vintage polo shirt.
I said STOP. (silence). Now don’t lie to me or yourself. Without looking it up, how many of you know what a Hapa club is? That doesn’t piss me off half as much as the obvious lack of knowledge the band has of the great film the French Connection. None of the supporting narrative supports any comparison to the film…unless they are referring to the iconic chase scene, which I’m sure is the only part they saw…because if they did see/comprehend the film, then they would understand how that verse doesn’t make any damn sense in context with the rest of the lyrics.
“AY AY AY AY!”
Allow me to shift and hit the gears like Gone With The Wind (wrong movie reference brought to you by Vampire Weekend). I’ve had the Contra debate over and over. The main point: “Oh, come on, it’s fun.” You know what’s wrong with the argument? I’ve never tried it, but I bet crack is pretty fun for a while as well. Why doesn’t everyone saddle up and crack it up all day? Sometimes fun doesn’t justify consumption. This is why Lady Gaga, Ke(money sign)ha, and Owl City play over and over on the radio…dumb people think the music is fun.
“AY AY AY AY”…I’m getting tired.
I feel like our indie generation is wasting one of the coolest moments of music history on the indulgence of buzz/wanting to fit in with a trend…which is the complete opposite of what indie is. When did indie get a dress code? Next time show up to a show wearing the most normal thing in your closet or jeans that feel comfortable to you…the music at the show remains the same. Why did he just bring up clothes? I brought up clothes because music is slowly moving away from the music and much more about the packaging of a band. Vampire Weekend might be fun, but they are manufactured fun. Take the amazing band Man Man. Those guys march by their own drum and come across completely sincere in their creation of a crazy brand/band.
I really moved away from talking about the album, but that’s ok…this is a social plea disguised as a review. If you made it this far…hold out your hand and I’ll hold it for this last paragraph. We are in the best time for discovering music. If you like Vampire Weekend, that’s fine. What I ask of you is to take breaks in between your Contra and just explore small blogs like WLFY and actually explore some of the smaller bands we feature. Go to concerts without texting on your damn iPhone. We need to revert back to seeing music as an art form and not something that is just fun. Fun is great, I own a Europe album…but the balance today is disgusting. Buy your Contra…it’s fun for you…but also try picking up a Jean Claude Vannier album. Film and music both need a renaissance and it starts with you.
AY AY AY