Reveling In Social Anxiety with Arcade Fire and Vampire Weekend

The Suburbs and Contra contemplate little pink polos for you and me

The melancholy final moments of Contra are also that album's most moving, but instead of a passionate embrace, "I Think Ur a Contra" is a chilly kiss-off that could've been transcribed from text messages. It's the only logical ending for an album so completely fixated on the instant otherness we create when we fixate on fashion, and the pain that emerges from even the slightest disconnection. "Contra" is a negatively defined word in Vampire Weekend's universe—like "hipster," it's a term that takes all its meaning from what the utterer is not. It's the same impulse responsible for the generic modifier "indie"; it's hip music's very own "Party of 'No.' "

Both Contra and The Suburbs open with songs whose narrators strive to regain a sense of feeling amid the forces—commerce, technology, language—that separate us while promising to pull us together. Arcade Fire succeed through earnest creative toil, while Vampire Weekend find a much more ambivalent fate, one well known to those who tend to overintellectualize. Both succeed in their own ways, however, with coping strategies for us 21st-century moderns: pushing back against the encroaching horde, or luxuriating in its detritus.

VW, haunted by the woman currently suing them
Santiago Felipe
VW, haunted by the woman currently suing them


Arcade Fire
The Suburbs
(#3 album)

Vampire Weekend
(#5 album)

Pazz and Jop 2010
Rise of the Douchebags
Kanye West and James Murphy turn their private flaws into public triumphs
By Zach Baron

Never Forget
Cee Lo Green sums up 2010 in two little words
By Rob Harvilla

The Wayward Crucifixion of M.I.A.
On the dodgy, opportunistic, truffle-fry-fueled campaign against both Maya and Maya
By Charles Aaron

Leave Chillwave Alone
In defense of the nostalgia-steeped genre Ariel Pink both invented and abandoned
By Simon Reynolds

Attack of the Singing Rappers
On Drake, Nicki Minaj, B.o.B., and the art of the debut-as-pop-crossover
By Clover Hope

The Great Gay-Pander-Off of 2010
Katy, Nicki, Ke$ha, P!nk, and Gaga taste the rainbow
By Rich Juzwiak

The Internet-Rap Atomization
Odd Future, Lil B, Wiz Khalifa, et al. build tiny kingdoms, and rule them
By Tom Breihan

Justin Bieber, Twitter Casanova
The Most Popular Boy in the World rules the only voting bloc that matters: pre-teen girls
By Camille Dodero

The Top Ten
From Kanye West to The Suburbs

Stuff We Like
Rick Ross Lies, the Rolling Stones Plunder, And Taylor Swift Triumphs

The Personals
Industry Woes, Cultural Theories, Polite Suggestions, and Calls of Bullshit

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