Vampire Weekend, "Contra"

82 Billboard Rating

Vampire Weekend's second album, "Contra," finds the New York-based band pushing its eclectic, intellectual indie rock further using a mash-up of musical genres, clever wordplay and emotional heft. The group even adds some international flair to the new set. On the anomalous reverb-washed opener, "Horchata," thumping drums accompany a Bollywood-sounding harmony, while "California English" exhibits Ivy League rhyme skills, swirling strings and singer Ezra Koenig's idiosyncratic Auto-Tune vocals, which give the track a calypso vibe that's more futuristic new wave than T-Pain. First single "Cousins" incorporates a trashing punk bassline and a powerful rhythm section, and "I Think Ur a Contra" is the first Vampire Weekend song to use an acoustic guitar. Koenig's falsetto and austere piano on the track is unlike anything found on the band's 2008 self-titled debut, or anywhere else, for that matter.