This first ran on Metropulse way back when. I just refound it and it made me giggle, so I thought I’d reprint it here.
The first sound on Contra is Ezra Koenig taking a deep breath. It’s the most precious thing you’ve ever heard—until “Horchata” kicks in, with its whoops-I’m-cute Calypso beats and New York-is-a-whimsical-wonderland lyrics. Apparently the band listened to Paul Simon’s Graceland and said to themselves, “Oh, tee hee—this would be sooo great if it were just a little less funky. Tee hee!”
Really, Contra is like some sort of reductio ad absurdum of ’00s indie rock—you listen to it and the connection between, say, Grizzly Bear and Raffi becomes ominously apparent. They’re just so adorable, these grinning manlings—oh, let me pinch their cheeks and smile inanely to their peppy jingles! I am so happy, and have a strange compulsion to quaff a soft drink!
I should at least enjoy “Diplomat’s Son.” I really dislike reggae, and this is probably as humiliating a desecration as the genre is ever likely to experience. But no, I can’t hack it. I’d rather hear “One Love” again, which is something I’d hoped never to have to say about any song, ever.