I am in the surprisingly small minority of listeners who actually enjoy Vampire Weekend’s Contra more than their critically-acclaimed debut. Sure, there’s no “A-Punk” or “Oxford Comma” that sticks out on Contra, and the novelty of the crisp button-down shirts and vintage Ray Bans have worn almost as thin as the pastel Toms sported by the boys from Columbia University. Sure, Pitchfork still gave Contra an 8.6, which probably led the casual listener to blame the tastemakers for jumping on a hipster bandwagon. Sure, there are many reasons to debunk the myth that Contra is a carefully crafted assortment of new and old; of classic thigh-slapping indie-dance (“Holiday” is the new “Mansard Roof”), and of the new synth-driven melodies closer to Rostam Batmanglij’s side project, Discovery (see: “Diplomat’s Son” or “White Sky”). Sure, part of the reason why the album was considered a letdown was that the two first singles, “Horchata” and “Cousins”, are two of the messier songs on an otherwise pristine album. Sure, It took me at least ten full listens trough the album to come to this conclusion. And, sure, even my co-writer doesn’t like Vampire Weekend.
Each and every time, though, I kept coming back to one song that ties the whole album together; the flagship track. “Giving Up the Gun” is a masterpiece of sound, complete with an infections drum pattern, a sing-song melody aided by xylophones, and a guitar rhythm that resonates in my head long after the song is finished. When the band announced a music video for the song starring RZA, Lil’ Jon, Joe Jonas, and Jake Gyllenhaal, my curiosity was piqued. I was rewarded a few days later with this masterful video, in which a young girl defeats a series of competitors in the preppiest game of tennis every played. Jake steals the show with his throat-slashing gesture and pint of whiskey that he drinks while casually rallying with our hero. Check the video for yourself above, and the single below. And, please, give Contra a chance.