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I've been using Cool Water ever since I was bought it as a gift, some time around the time I became old enough to go out drinking on a weekend. Cool Water is a good metaphor for the scent contained within the bottle, refreshing (but masculine, it's not too effeminately perfumey) with a nice hint of citrus that lingers. There are a lot of aftershaves that I find smell strongly, overbearingly like alcohol, but Cool Water gives an idea of the 'cool water' effect its moniker implies. The simple blue bottle design adds to the refreshing effect.
I might as well admit it and say that the only reason men of my age (of any age?) wear aftershave is in order to impress women. I have had compliments before using Cool Water and I've read that good aftershave is appealing to women and a good way of attracting them. If that's what you're looking for, this is a good aftershave to use - just don't use too much to the point where it becomes overpowering, as that can be very offputting. Go easy on the application of it, not that the bottle will run out very quickly - I've found Cool Water lasts for ages. Thus ends me speaking on the desperation of men trying to pull.
I'm not a huge aftershave connoisseur, but I don't feel the need to shop around or use anything else now when I go on a night out (other than Davidoff Cool Summer, which smells equally nice and refreshing). I've heard the £15 asking price is very good for an aftershave - it's cheapness is probably because Cool Water is so ubiquitous, you'll have a lot of competition if you're using this stuff to hit on women - and I would certainly recommend it.
As a writer and a student, I find it really annoying whenever I have ideas and don't have a way to get them out quickly enough without forgetting them shortly after. It was starting to become annoying so I wanted to invest in a dictaphone.
I can't say I was an expert in dictaphones beforehand, but I did some research and found this model - Sony has always been reliable for me. There are cheaper models - I can't say I've used them to rate them - but there's always the possibility that cheaper means poorer quality, and £40 seems a good price for what you get.
The ICD BX800's memory storage is great; you get around 500 hours of very good sound quality recording. The recordings in playback are exceptionally clear, which is obviously the most important thing for a Dictaphone. You can play them back through the speaker or through headphones.
As I said, I'm no expert but I found the Dictaphone very easy to use. The buttons are clear and simple - you can skip through old recordings very easily. There are some additional functions but all I've ever used it for is simple recording and playback, and any novice can figure out how to do that with ease.
You can't upload recordings to a computer but it hasn't been a big problem for me; I only use the Dictaphone for recording rough ideas/notes to be written up later more formally, so I don't really need to keep the recordings stored on my laptop for later. Plus, I doubt many people will go over 500 hours of rough recordings before they need more space. If you are one of those people, you'll need a Dictaphone with USB connection capabilities. If there are any disadvantages, this is the only one, but it's never been an issue for me.
As a media production student, I needed a flash drive with a lot of storage space to carry video files/transfer large files from one place to another; you won't need a 32GB USB stick if all you need is to store a few Word documents. If you're someone with a need to carry a lot of video files however - for example if you lend movies/TV shows to friends - this has the ample room you need. I've found the storage space to be great, especially considering the small size of the device.
There isn't much you can say about the design and shape of a standard USB flash drive - the look of it is decent, though I much prefer the simple colour scheme used in the picture in comparison to my bright red version - but this does come with a neat feature. The USB connector itself slides in and out of the pen drive via a sliding mechanism on the shaft of the device. This protects the connector from snapping or being damaged when not in use, which is handy.
I have had no problems with the flash drive so far; it hasn't been prone to freezing or corrupting files in transfer and files (even large ones) take only a short while to transfer from the computer to the flash drive, or vice versa. The only thing that bothers me is that, each time I plug in the device to a USB port, a small page appears on the screen on behalf of the SanDisk company, advertising promotions and product suggestions (at least I think that's what it is; I've never given the page much attention). This is merely an irritation though, and all it takes is a quick click to close the page. At a price of around £25 (I'm not an expert, but I think this is a decent asking price), I would say the Sandisk flash drive is definitely worth it for people with big storage requirements.
With the old family toaster recently breaking down and refusing to work anymore (it was its time), we had to search for a new one. The Morphy Richards toaster was settled on.
The Morphy Richards is a four slice toaster, which is good if you want more than two slices at a time and can't wait, or if you live with your family as I do (no waiting around while your sister's bread toasts). This is good for me as a student because it means impatience and laziness is innate.
There are some good functions on the device that make things easier. You can control the nozzles on the side per two slices of the toaster, not just all at once, so you can control how much your individual slices of bread are toasted.
There are also three additional buttons on the side, one of which is a reheating function, one which toasts bread from frozen, and another that cancels any actions. It also comes with a removable crumb tray, which you obviously have to keep on top of - unlike some of us in this family - because it can build up quickly with excessive use.
Plus, as you can see from the picture, it's a really cool-looking machine (though ours is red, which is the best colour the toaster comes available in in my opinion). It's also been crafted well enough to be really simple to use; I doubt you'll ever have any problems using it.
As well as being well-designed, there really aren't any issues that we've had with the toaster thus far. For £44.99 though, I don't know how worth it the machine actually is. I personally can't see the point of going over a few quid for a basic toaster that does what it's supposed to do: toasting your bread (I wasn't the one that bought this toaster, coincidentally). It's not one that's required for someone who lives alone, and is obviously designed for family-use. However, if you live with others and you're not opposed to paying a bit extra, this one does look really good in your kitchen and has a few nice extra functions that you might feel make the toaster worth it.
All in all, this is not an incredibly big cage, but for birds that can become acclimatised to their surroundings and can fly around the house outside of the cage, such as budgies, it's very useful. We allow our budgie to have free reign of the house (he often flies back and forth between upstairs and the lounge when he wants) and he pretty much uses his cage as his own private bed/dining room, in a way, and it provides that function very well.
The cage we got came with a swing perch that he uses to sleep on at night, though I don't know if all the cages come with this as standard as we bought ours from the man who sold us the budgie. The two feeding dishes at the front are easy to access via the perches directed towards them, though you do have to refill them about once every two or three days as they don't hold an enormous amount of food or water. The bottom of the cage, too, needs changing regularly, as birds can be fairly messy creatures (you will find feathers everywhere, especially as your birds grow, and the bottom of the cage basically doubles as a toilet). Sandpaper is required at the bottom of the cage and on the perches to allow your birds to keep their beak and nails trimmed, and these too need changing regularly, as the sandpaper does go smooth after a while.
The cage on the whole is fairly light; whenever we have to leave our budgie with friends or family to look after (e.g. if we go on holiday), the cage is very lightweight and easy enough to carry over to another location. Having owned the cage for about 5 years now, the perches have remarkably all remained intact and haven't snapped off. They do sometimes become flimsy when our budgie walks to the ends like some kind of daredevil, but it just takes some careful repositioning to put them back in solid place.
The only noticeable problem with our cage is that a couple of the cage bars have become flimsy and have snapped off; whether this is because our cage was pre-owned and old I'm not sure, but you certainly don't want your pets escaping, especially if you have ones that aren't exactly supposed to leave the cage (finches, for example). One the whole, however, this has been a very good cage for us, and for our budgie, Baldwin.
Where I go to uni, the water don't taste so great (at least not up to the Yorkshire Water standards that I've become accustomed to in my 22 years of life); with this first-world problem laying heavily on my mind, I endeavoured to buy a water filter.
I did the necessary research first to find a good product, but being someone fixated on the aesthetic qualities of technology, I found the Brita Elemeris filter to be one of the better-looking models; it has a very simple and modern design that I like. The device also comes with a meter that tells you when to replace the temp. filter, which is very helpful.
This was a good decision - my water is now much fresher and tastier as a result. Having it constantly refrigerated is the best way to keep it, though you will have to keep washing it to ensure it's clean. This isn't a problem as it's very simple to dismantle the product and you have the option to put it in the dishwasher, providing you're even lazier than I am.
The only really annoying thing is making space for it in your fridge - we share one fridge between six of us at Uni, so I don't always have room to store the filter. Make sure you do actually have the required space in the fridge beforehand. However, the size does mean that the jug stores a lot of water (3.5 litres; it is an 'XL' after all), which is an obvious bonus.
When I first noticed I was going bald aged 16, I was obviously devastated; this was something that wasn't supposed to happen until I reached middle-age! Immediately, I grew my hair out to cover up the ever-sharper widow's peak. But as time went on, I started to research remedies and products that might ease, or even prevent, any further hair loss. Regaine, I hear, can make your scalp raw and flaky; Propecia, apparently, has the potential to make you impotent; any other products I looked into seemed to have little effect. Then I heard about Alpecin.
According to the instructions on the bottle, Alpecin shampoo is to be used once daily. It is to be lathered into the hair and left on the scalp for two minutes and above (though anything over 2 minutes is apparently increasingly effective). This is supposed to reinvigorate the hair roots and slow the process of hair loss (I have also read that some people have found hair regrowth).
After four months of use, I have been told that my hair now looks thicker and healthier, but I'm not sure if the 'C1 formula' is having any effect on my male pattern baldness. My hair may appear thicker, but my receding hairline still appears to be continuing its gradual decline; perhaps Alpecin is designed for use on thinning hair rather than receding hair.
The price of a bottle is very cheap, but then I suppose its value for money depends on how well it works for you personally. I am still sceptical about the results, but then it's hard for me to say whether my hairline would be even worse without using Alpecin. Either way, my hair would appear to be thicker and healthier, I've witnessed none of the side-effects other products seem to possess and I will continue using Alpecin in the hope that it eventually shows results. I hear for many people it really does work.
The iphone, like all apple products, has a minimal design, it looks slick, sophisticated and - that's right - a little bit futuristic, even if the weight of the thing makes it hang heavy in the pocket. The menu is also simple to use and similarly nicely designed; obviously if you're stepping up to using an iphone for the first time, it takes some time getting used to it as with anything, but it's easy to become comfortable with. The thing I found hardest to get accustomed to was the touch-screen keyboard (I have man-fingers, and therefore had to adapt and tap the screen with the large things more gently than I was doing) and, most of all, the auto-correct function. I'm sure we've all heard of Damn You Autocorrect, and there's a reason why there's a website dedicated to it - if you're not careful, the iphone will change words (even those that exist) into something completely unrelated to what you originally intended to write. The best thing to do is read over your texts before sending. Those occasional issues aside, autocorrect is quite handy for when you're quickly bashing out a text, and it more often than not finds the right word you were looking for.
The camera function is good too; a little zooming will lose quality and clarity, but without it's a damn good camera, considering a lot of camera phones take some awful pictures. I've managed to take a few good-looking pictures with this phone, which is good for when you want to capture a moment and all you have with you is your phone.
I don't have access to the internet on my device (this is a fault with the phone itself that I'll hopefully get fixed soon) so I can't review that extensively, but I've used the internet explorer function on my dad's, and I can say this is where the iphone poses its only real problems for me. I suppose you shouldn't really complain when you have the option to use the internet so freely on your phone at all, but I've found the unpredictable signal on the iphone hugely frustrating. You can have full access to the internet at one moment, then the signal will completely cut out the next. It seems like a very first-world, privileged man's problem, but internet explorer when I use the iphone is very slow and often very irritating as a result.
Still, this is a minor quibble for me as I have no use for the internet unless I'm working at home, in which case I have my laptop. It may be better to read another review regarding internet useage on the phone as I use it so rarely but, overall, the iphone is a very good product.
I can't say I'm as technologically proficient as some of the others reviewing this product on the site, but I can say, for me anyway, this is a very good camera.
Although the camera is not primarily in use by me - this is my sister's device - I've had time to come to grips with it and it's a pretty impressive model. We've been using this for about a year now, since an inferior camera took a slight fall during a drinking session and immediately got itself destroyed. With this camera, for everyday use like photographing day trips, holidays and nights out, I've still to come across any negatives that would be cause for complaint.
The zoom function is great and lacks the huge amount of distortion seen on most cameras. Without zoom, the picture quality is nice and sharp, complete with red-eye reduction and a good flash (which you can turn on or off; I've had previous cameras where it decides for you, which can get very annoying very fast). The menu is easy to navigate, which is good if you're like me, lazy and completely useless at using anything remotely technological.
The video option also looks good, while the sound quality of the videos is pretty clear when played back. The battery lasts well too, which is something else I've had gripes with with previous cameras, though obviously using video runs it down quicker than just taking photographs. Still, you're less likely to run out with this one just when you're about to take that one crucial picture.
The camera design itself is one of the reasons why my sister bought the camera, as I imagine is often the case with casual photographers choosing their model. Like all Sony products, it looks sleek and modern, with a simple black chrome and silver colour scheme. I suppose the picture quality should be the main concern, but the camera looks pretty suave regardless. It's also very compact, so you can just stick it in your pocket for when you're out and about. It all points to the fact that this camera was probably designed for casual users like myself; serious photographers would, I imagine, have to look elsewhere.
For the price the camera is available at at the moment, you really can't go wrong. It looks great, it takes good pictures, it's compact and it does its job as a quick-use, regular Joe's camera.
Picture the scene: a petty crook and wannabe-gangster, the sharp-suited Michel (Jean-Paul Belmondo), is on the run from the French police.
Hiding out in Paris before making a new life for himself in Italy, Michel has returned to the French capital for his one true love, American student Patricia (Jean Seberg). Leaving the company of an associate when the money owed to him isn't paid, Michel heads for the Champs-Elysees. There, we see the luminous Patricia for the first time, a slender figure with cropped blonde hair, wandering in and out of traffic, selling newspapers. And then comes a cry, and we hear Patricia for the very first time:
"New York Herald Tribune! New York Herald Tribune!"
This is not the beginning of 1960's Breathless, but it is the moment when one of cinema's most palpable romantic liaisons begins to unfold before our eyes. It is the single most iconic moment of the French New Wave (or 'Nouvelle Vague' if you're French, which I'm not), the cinema movement begun in the late '50s/early '60s by French film critics and cineastes whose passion for film knew no bounds. The sight of Jean Seberg strolling down Paris' most prestigious of streets, backed by strings so romantically soaring it sounds as though even the soundtrack is in love with her, is a transcendent moment in cinema. To wonder aloud just why this part of Jean-Luc Godard's debut is so awe-inspiring would probably rob it of its cool; just know that it is.
It's in this one scene that all the best things about Breathless are encapsulated: the smooth, jazz-influenced score, the non-traditional style and, of course, the acting. Jean Seberg, with her innocent elfin features, is mesmerising, while Jean-Paul Belmondo is so far beyond cool he doesn't even flinch upon discovering he's just been reported for murder. Theirs is a romance that is unconventional and doomed from the start - he loves her, she's indifferent to him. But Breathless is far from a conventional romantic drama, anyway.
Instead, the picture is a way for Godard to indulge all his directorial fantasies at once. Godard - and the New Wave - was famously obsessed with American gangster movies; Breathless is about a petty criminal obsessed with Humphrey Bogart. The Nouvelle Vague aspired to achieve something real in cinema; Breathless is filmed almost documentary-style. And above all else, Godard wanted to smash the idea of conventional film form; here, the director toys with editing, relentlessly breaks down the fourth wall and generally plays around with his picture in a way that shook up filmmaking forever.
Still, there's no doubt about it: Breathless is flawed. The New Wave has been accused of pretentiousness, and A Bout De Souffle is more often than not guilty of it. Its brother, Francois Truffaut's the 400 Blows (1959), is undoubtedly the better film. Still, Breathless is a more vibrant experiment, a filmic letter bomb addressed to tired Western moviemaking that signalled in a huge change in world cinema; it's often clear that Godard made it just to shake things up. As a result, there are certain aspects of the film that would've made more sense and impact back in 1960 than they do now, but this doesn't stop Breathless still being a movie brimming with style and energy. And thanks to its two leads and the setting, it's also gorgeous to look at.
Writer/director of Four Lions, Chris Morris, has never been one to shy away from controversy. The dark comedy, about five British Muslims clumsily planning a terrorist attack, was talked about long before release, leading to debate months in advance due to its potentially offensive themes. Could it have been worth such hype?
For me, the answer is a definite 'yes'. This is because of the audacity of Brass Eye creator Morris even attempting to make such controversial material comical, for trying something that hasn't been done before and for making his debut feature so downright hilarious.
It's rare to see a smart comedy that also happens to be packing so many belly laughs. There aren't many whip-smart one-liners here, as Four Lions prefers to stick to the comedy of the absurd - most of the humour comes from the collective stupidity of the would-be terrorists, especially Adeel Akhtar's Fessal. There's also a fair bit of slapstick, albeit very dark - one incident, Fessal's attempt to turn his pet crow into a suicide bomber, has disastrous results.
Still, the underlying themes keep the film from ever descending into mindless Anchorman-style laughs. Questions of identity and race are raised throughout, highlighted none-more prominently in main protagonist Omar's (Riz Ahmed) relationship with his devout Muslim brother. Those inevitable critics of Four Lions' 'bad taste' (and there will be some) simply need to look past its farcical comedy style to see it has a rather intelligent core.
The main cast boasts not one weak link, with the five leads doing some truly magnificent work. As straight-man Omar, rising star Riz Ahmed is the man keeping his idiotic team together, including Arsher Ali's Toploader-loving Hassan and Nigel Lindsay's extremist Muslim convert Barry. Kayvan Novak, best known as TV's Fonejacker, gets the most laughs as Waj, and rightly so - his character is ludicrously stupid and Novak nails each line with dead-headed precision. We still care for them all, though, brainless or not, and that is one of the reasons Four Lions works so well. We warm to the characters for the bumbling fools that they are.
Like so many comedies out there, the film is in search of an ending to satisfyingly tie it up; no matter, it's all about the build-up anyway. There are some moments here that will go down in comedy history and despite the odd instance where things get serious, the humour is what you'll remember Four Lions for.
Next to A Town Called Panic, this was the funniest film of 2010. It's not politically correct, it's not at all perfect and some of the themes are unsettling to be seen present in what could often be considered a slapstick comedy, but this is still hilarious and intelligent stuff.
My recent viewing of Rebel Without A Cause was the first time I'd seen the film in its entirety and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it. The theme of youth alienation is now less groundbreaking and the teen rebellion much less controversial but that doesn't stop Nicholas Ray's 1955 film from being enormously entertaining.
I was also surprised how some of the themes in Rebel are still relevant today. It shocked me to find that, although made at a time when the world was still naive about the teenage subculture, this film addresses key causes of teen problems that are more widely known about today. Parental strife, drunken oblivion and peer pressure are all covered amidst the knife fights and drag races, as we watch a group of youths aimlessly stride through early life.
And James Dean is the magnetic force keeping it all together as angst-filled young troublemaker Jim Stark. Dean is the star around which all the other actors orbit - whereas the rest of the cast all have their performances grounded in melodrama, Dean brings anguished believability to Stark, acting as one of the original pioneers of 'the method' in Hollywood. His Stark holds probably the closest resemblance to 'The Catcher In The Rye's Holden Caulfield that we'll ever see on the screen - a tormented loner longing for acceptance.
This is classic melodrama movie-making from a director whom Jean-Luc Godard said "IS cinema", with James Dean giving a performance that is as iconic and striking today as it was way back in 1955.
The presence of Natalie Wood as Dean's love interest didn't harm it either. I won't dwell on that though.
I like Woody Allen films - the lovely, jazz-soundtracked Sweet and Lowdown and the recent, even more lovely Midnight In Paris, for instance - but generally not when they have Woody Allen in them. A lot of people like Woody Allen as an actor; I'm not one of them. I've just always found him a bit of a wet lettuce, a bit of a drip, somewhat nasal, slightly weaselly, shoe-hurlingly infuriating.
Romantic comedy-drama Manhattan, then, could have been a problem for me. It is directed by Woody Allen. It is written by Woody Allen. It stars Woody Allen. So imbued is the film with Allen's DNA it could probably be classed as a relative. However, I'm happy to say the film surprised me - I started off initially irritated by the nervy New Yorker and his screenplay's highbrow-or-die philosophy. But, eventually, the bespectacled joker wore me down and, in the end, I had endeared to both.
Which I suppose is one of the man's, and the film's, charms: the ability to be flawed yet oddly loveable. I still can't really get on board with Allen's 42 year-old character's affair with a girl of 17, but the black and white cinematography - backed by George Gershwin's fairytale-esque musical score - is astounding. This film is a rarity in that it's a comedy that looks good as well as being funny.
And it is funny. Allen's screenplay is full of charmingly neurotic humour and even some obviously silent screen-inspired vignettes, but the lovingly composed framing, especially those long shots of New York in all its epic majesty, are what will stay with me. Has any other comedian ever made a film this beautiful?
In 2010, I attended the Bradford Film Festival as part of work experience I was doing at a newspaper at the time. There were a lot of great movies on show, but probably my most anticipated film of the festival, Werner Herzog's Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call - New Orleans was perhaps fittingly the last film I had scheduled to see. Why was I so looking forward to it? Two words: Nicolas Cage.
It had become a sad thing to see Cage languishing in low-grade action movies and tepid blockbusters in recent years - the man once daring enough to eat a live cockroach for Vampire's Kiss or play an alcoholic drinking himself to death in Leaving Las Vegas had settled for mediocrity and an easy paycheque. In 2010, with the double whammy of Kick-Ass and Bad Lieutenant, he looked set to break that cycle. As drug-addicted 'bad' lieutenant Terence McDonagh, it was obvious that the Cage once so beloved by critics was back.
Procuring and taking cocaine and heroin at any opportunity possible, Cage's McDonagh is a whirlwind of manic excess. As in the original Bad Lieutenant, the vice-riddled cop's life is a mess with only one factor, the determination to solve a horrendous crime, driving him, but the main difference is this Bad Lieutenant is played mostly for laughs. Cage fully inhabits McDonagh and gives one of his best ever performances; it's certainly his funniest, delivering lines like "Do you think fish have dreams?" from behind a hysterical drug-haze.
The overall film isn't quite as exciting as Cage's performance, with Herzog working with probably the most generic story and script of his career (though that may be part of the self-parody - see the final scene, in which EVERYTHING is hilariously wrapped up within 2 minutes, for evidence). There are some hilariously quirky moments in which the drug-crazed McDonagh hallucinates - at one point he imagines a pair of iguanas singing the blues - but the film mostly resembles a straightforward TV police procedural. Without Cage injecting such energy into Bad Lieutenant, there wouldn't be much of a film to recommend.
Still, it's an entertaining movie, if only really worth seeing for Nicolas Cage back on frenzied form. What unique vision Werner Herzog has sacrificed to make this film has given the 46 year-old actor a new lease of life as a performer.
Hearing the Vaccines debut album brings to mind - aside from their obvious musical influences, of which The Ramones seems to be the main name the press have thrown around, even though I find this inaccurate - 'St. Jude', the first offering from the now all but forgotten Courteeners. There is strong guitar pop to be found in both, catchy, lyrically smart and full of the vibrant enthusiasm that comes with many debut records. But apart from the singles, 'Not Nineteen Forever' and 'Acrylic' among them, a lot of 'St. Jude' sounded like rushed filler, assumedly churned out quickly to cash in on the momentum the band gained from popular live shows. The Vaccines, who earlier this year were hyped to the point that their subsequent backlash was inevitable, have delivered even stronger single releases on 'What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?', but some of the same weak and unmemorable filler regrettably still lurks elsewhere.
First of all, the positives. The opening one-two of 'Wreckin' Bar' and 'If You Wanna' would have you believe that this really is the second coming of guitar pop in Britain, such are their strengths. 'Wreckin' Bar' is so joyously infectious it'll launch you dancing around the room like an idiot, while 'If You Wanna' is one of the jauntiest break-up tunes ever conceived, even despite the repetition of the words "All alone/I am on my own". The same goes for 'Blow It Up', its '90s indie rock-style jangly guitars and chanted chorus belying lead vocalist Justin Young's talk of the bafflement of youth.
Musically, though, 'Norgaard' is probably the strongest here, a catchy little number (like 'Wreckin' Bar', it clocks in at only a minute and a half) about Young's disastrous date with Danish model Amanda Norgaard. After some lively lone guitar chords and a glorious yell of "Woooh!" the whole band factor in for a dizzily-executed pop song with a self-deprecating sense of humour: "Great Dane's cheekbones, Teenage hormones, Young complexion, Non-physical affection. You're a God send! Do you want a boyfriend?"
'Post Break-Up Sex', on the other hand, is lyrically the best work on the album. A tune with one of the most self-explanatory titles ever, it's unclear whether the "post break-up sex" is taking place between the protagonist and his ex-girlfriend, whether she's involved at all or if she's the one doing the deed behind his back, or if it's all just in his imagination, but it's brilliant nonetheless. Words such as "I can barely look at you, Don't tell me who you lost it to" and "Someone up the social scale/for when you're going off the rails/have Post break-up sex/that helps you forget your ex" perfectly capture the jealousy, heartbreak and self-loathing that comes with a devastating break-up.
As a band, The Vaccines bring a loaded energy to their work. Justin Young's voice is not to be underestimated, instantly bringing to mind wailing Mancunian moaner Morrissey, while the rest of the band, bassist Arni Hjorvar, lead guitarist Freddie Cowan and drummer Pete Robertson, play with an endearing, exhilarating urgency. It's rough-sounding garage rock that The Vaccines excel at, trading perfection for a powerful sense of anarchic fun.
Which is why it's unfortunate that on over-produced tracks like 'All In White', they lose much of that power; and that isn't the only lacklustre tune on the album. 'A Lack of Understanding' sounds like an early, discarded version of 'Blow It Up' while 'Wetsuit' is just an example of annoyingly quaint, nonsensical indie that bands like The Wombats enjoy making. 'Wolf Pack' and 'Under Your Thumb' - with its repeated 'Eleanor' refrain - are both improvements, while 'Family Friend' is even vaguely poignant, but you'll be lucky to remember a lyric or even be able to hum a bar once they're over. Similarly so the track 'Somebody Else's Child', seemingly inspired by early Coldplay and hidden at the end of 'Family Friend', which features a plaintive piano delicately repeating the same notes behind Young's gentle, Chris Martin-esque howling.
'Child' at least deserves bonus points for using an instrument other than a couple of guitars and drums and for not resembling every other song on the album, but its deliberate pace does not suit this band. The Vaccines are at their best when they're delivering raw, immediate and deceptively simple guitar tracks. All their best ones rely on speedy delivery and unflinchingly honest lyrics, and slow tempo tracks like these suffer because, really, the band isn't all that advanced in terms of musical craft yet. The worst offender is obviously 'All In White', a White Lies-aping number that goes for contemplative, moving and epic but which just lands at maudlin and dull. Apparently The Vaccines' attempt to create something simultaneously grandiose and heartbreaking like Joy Division's 'Atmosphere', it sticks out like a sore thumb on this LP.
Still, on the strength of 'Wreckin' Bar', 'If You Wanna', 'Post Break-Up Sex', 'Blow It Up' and, best of all, the giddily energetic 'Norgaard', these boys will probably still avoid becoming the next Courteeners and edge away from the so-called 'indie landfill'. Thanks to the aforementioned tracks and a couple of other growers present on the record, 'What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?' is far from a failure and warrants repeated listens. Besides, the band is still only a few mere months old after all, and the hype that made them seem invincible world-beaters clearly came far too soon, exacerbated by a media quick to praise any new band with a decent single as the next Beatles. Next time, the quality of what we expect from The Vaccines won't be as hopelessly high and, with any luck, they can build on that.