Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Vampire Weekend: Contra [XL, 2010]
They're sticking their SATs in yo face, dumb-ass, and as Tom Petty once put it, they won't back down. Whatever the extent of their world travels geographical and virtual on this album, the actual money remains with people they only know, particularly the putative ex-girlfriend to whom Ezra Koenig addresses half his new songs. One exception is the guy who inspired "Giving Up the Gun"--still plays guitar down at that ex-skinhead bar, but his ears are shot to hell and he feels obsolete. Vampire Weekend give him respect, but "Contra" establishes that his band has chosen another path, celebrating the world's contradictions, contraindications, and contradistinctions with a new pop sound made up of old pop sounds that aren't the same old pop sounds. As for that controversy you may have read about, they spell too well to care. A