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Contra by Vampire Weekend
Released: Jan 2010
Label: Xl
These Anglophile Ivy League Afrophiles show some writer's block on their second album, but remain obsessed with privilege -- "California English" talks about "private schools," and M.I.A. gets sampled in "Diplomat's Son." The album title references the Clash's Sandinista!, and VW accordingly broaden their own rhythmic palate: "Holiday" dances a jaunty ska oompah; "Cousins" opens with a hard James Brown vamp. But despite fancy orchestrations, the slower melodies don't always catch. The most charming tunes are the ones kept short and speedy. Even rich boys need hooks, right?
Chuck Eddy

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