Though Contra didn't quite live up to the standard set by Vampire Weekend's breakout self-titled debut, it was remarkably successful in its own right. Riding this wave of success, the band has now released a series of live recordings under an iTunes Sessions label.
The iTunes Sessions are composed of both tweaked versions of Vampire Weekend staples, as well as some high-profile covers the band has been fine tuning over the last year of touring. The band find success with their tweaking. With its sharp guitar and driving percussion, "A-Punk" progresses with more impetus than ever. "Holiday" sounds like an entirely different song, slowed down, stretched out and with an entirely new horn section thrown in. "Cousins" sounds very similar to the album version, but "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" benefits from the stripped-down-to-the-basics production.
The strongest song on the album is their cover of Bruce Springsteen's "I'm Going Down." Critics level that vocalist Ezra Koenig isn't the vocal heavy-hitter that The Boss is, but the song is masterfully arranged and Koenig manages to sound both endearing and persistent, matching the song's tone perfectly. The collection is not necessarily a must-have, but if you like Vampire Weekend, you'll like the iTunes Sessions.