30 Best Albums of 2010

Kanye's 'Fantasy' conquered reality; the Black Keys locked into a groove; Arcade Fire burned down the suburbs

6

Vampire Weekend, 'Contra'

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Contra was the album where Vampire Weekend discovered they could do just about anything: dubby, slo-mo gorgeousness, clattering pseudo-punk, African guitar riffs, choral swells, songs that rhyme "horchata" with "Aranciata" and "Masada." Ezra Koenig wrote dense lyrics about young love and Third World strife, but no matter how meditative he got, his melodic skills never failed him: Rarely do songs this lushly produced feel so buoyant or seem to zip by so quickly. By the time you marvel at the spacy ballad "I Think UR a Contra" or get "Your sword's grown old and rusty/Burnt beneath the rising sun" (from "Giving Up the Gun") stuck in your head, you realize these guys are as much about pure pleasure as anything else.

Video: Vampire Weekend Talk Contra

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