Yes, very much so. I especially liked this paragraph:
“what really puts the “contra” in Contra is the things that Koenig does with words: On “Horchata” it’s the way that Koenig rhymes “drinking horchata” (road trips, multicultural culture, left-liberal college kids) to “foot on Masada” (Birthright Israel trips where they tell Jewish kids to marry Jewish). On the break-uppy “I Think Ur a Contra,” it’s accusing the ex “you’re a contra” (you’re a hater), and then accusing the ex “you’re not a contra” (you’re not a revolutionary), and then defending —from the ex? from critics?—with “don’t call me a contra” (don’t call me anti-revolutionary). All throughout Contra words fight it out with each other or divide against themselves.”
I hadn’t noticed the Masada bit, but I did notice that ‘horchata’ and ’balaclava’ are rhymed with “December”, which is a bit awkward for correct English speakers. In part (and this is what I assumed at first) the last is spoken in a New England, ‘chowdah’ type of accent (thank you, The Simpsons, for the detailed education into American accents), but at the same time he manages to enunciate the ‘er’ properly. There’s a similar, subjective effect in ‘Giving Up The Gun’, in the line “my ears are blown to bits from all the rifle hits” [incidentally,I just bought my first pair of ear plugs today], which I thought was “raffle hits”, some sort of exotic drum technology that I hadn’t heard of but the polyphonic VW were intimately familiar with; of course, it’s not, but the affected vocals inject a large amount of ambiguity into it anyway.
All that is exceedingly trivial and maybe I’m the only one who hears it like that. Nevertheless, it’s something I find and enjoy in Vampire Weekend’s music, and isn’t that what we should be talking about? Ambiguity-pop is the new chillwave, and it’s as nice to listen to as it is interesting to talk about [backlash-to-backlash defensiveness aside]. There’s plenty in that piece that I agree with, but in the final paragraph I’m almost afraid to agree (though I’m glad it tackles punk):
“Vampire Weekend can get pretty bitchy when it comes to critics who demand to hear them tell rich people to go fuck themselves, but Contra is obsessed with punk and politics in its own terms. You don’t call an album “Contra” and then pack it up with references to The Clash unless you’re aching for a face-off with Joe Strummer’s angry ghost. And every time the shadow of The Clash shows up to haunt the lyrics (“Taxi Cab,” “Diplomat’s Son,” “I Think Ur a Contra’) Koenig gets dead serious and apologetic, and melancholically tries to explain why he can’t do heroic political anger. Koenig is in love with being in the middle—all “You’re not a victim, but neither am I” and “Never pick sides, never choose between two, but I just wanted you”—and honestly he’s doing a good job there. If you’re going to occupy a middle ground in life, then it’s a great idea to use it for creating nuanced, fragile songs about how politics and love and money interact while also constantly reminding us about The Clash.”
Is the middle ground good? I like the middle way - neither extreme of negation nor indulgence - but stasis in the middle ground is the worst (if least reactionary - non-Contra) kind of conservatism. I think that I do agree with ‘I Think Ur A Contra’, as seen in this analysis, in terms of nuance, but I’m not giving up my idealism to Vampire Weekend (what would they do with it, anyway?). Still, it’s idealism on my own terms, which isn’t really idealism at all, and that fits with ‘Contra’ as an absence of pre-conceived notions.