Posts Tagged ‘ The Vaccines ’

The Vaccines – Come of Age (Music Review)

Vaccines - Come of Age cover

The Vaccines – Come of Age

Don’t be fooled by the title of The Vaccines’ sophomore album, Come of Age. As the opening song explains, “When you’re young and bored and twenty-four and don’t know who you are no more, there’s no hope and it’s hard to come of age”. In fact, expect to hear sentiments like that frequently throughout the album. The band’s consistent message is that they’re confused, aimless, and are going to let you down.

Despite that, the songs actually sound too self-aware to be written by their callow narrator. The Vaccines sing about being young and stupid, rather than from the experience of being young and stupid. It’s a comfortable topic, and the songs flow by mostly inoffensively. The one exception is “I Wish I Was A Girl”, which definitely seems to come from an oblivious boy’s perception of what a girl’s life must be like. Depending on your perspective, it is either offensively ignorant of real people’s problems, or an accurate slice-of-life from their age group. For me, it splits the difference and ends up being an easily-forgettable track near the end.

Not much of the album is forgettable, though. This is Brit-pop at its catchiest. The band smoothed out the extremes of the last album, with none of the Ramones impersonations and much less of the slow “youth-soul”. In their place are much more consistent British guitar anthems. None of it is as startling or refreshing as the band’s initial hits, but it’s too slick and hook-filled to complain about.

I finished my review of that first album by worrying that their youthful burst of energy was going to burn out before they could put together a follow-up work. By that standard, Come of Age is a relief even if it doesn’t hit the same highs. The slick performance and winking lyrics of this new album feel a bit more smooth and calculated than what we had before, but they also give us some excellent pop anthems. The real test will be in what their next release sounds like. I could craft a narrative in which this is a natural progression of the band’s style, or one in which this is a cynical retreat to safe, test-marketed music. I’m not worrying about that too much at the moment, though; I just plan to enjoy Come of Age until the next album comes out.

Grade: B

 

The Vaccines – What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? (Music Review)

What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? cover

The Vaccines - What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?

The Vaccines have a sound equally influenced by 70’s punk and 80’s synth, with lyrics that sometimes dip into the sleazy, dangerous territory of The Raveonettes. These elements meld surprisingly well on their debut release What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? The punk elements keep the slower songs straightforward and emotional, without dipping into any boring or navel-gazing territory, and the other elements ensure that the harder songs are clear and well-produced enough to be accepted by a mainstream audience.

“Wreckin’ Bar (Ra Ra Ra)” and “Norgaard” are Ramones-influenced gems, which barely take three minutes when played back to back. These are the rare songs that can remain fun even when they stay stuck in your head for days. The bulk of the songs are in a slower style, with sparse arrangements around singer Justin Young’s deep, smooth voice. In songs like “Wetsuit” and “Post Break-Up Sex”, he provides a youthful approximation of soulfulness. while slightly more energetic ones like “Blow It Up” tinge the clean production with a garage influence. Somewhere in between the band’s extremes, the mid-tempo “If You Wanna” provides a bouncy beat and timeless sound, with a radio-ready message of break-up pain. (“I don’t wanna see you with another guy, but the fact is that I may. That’s what all the friends I do not like as much as you say.”)

This album has some of the best pop treasures of the year, but even at its short half hour runtime, it seems like the band have run through all their tricks by the end. It’s not immediately obvious how they will manage to follow this up without either becoming boring or abandoning their simple elegance. Even if The Vaccines’ career ends up being as fleeting as the youth and the lusts they portray, though, at least this album will preserve them.

Grade: B+