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"They're just fun pop songs played with a passion" is how lead singer Justin Young chooses to describe the London quartet's debut album, leaving you wondering if the bands frontman is being extremely modest or simply a master of the understatement.
Formed in early 2010 the band have enjoyed a meteoric rise to fame, jumping fearlessly on to a crashing wave of hype which swept them up from the safety of being mere garage rock hopefuls before tossing them ashore onto main stage slots at this year's T in the Park, Isle of Wight and Reading and Leeds Festivals. As for the music itself, The Vaccines are certainly no slouches in that department either.
Raucous opening track and live favourite Wreckin Bar (Ra Ra Ra) explodes out of the speakers in a sonic fury and, at 1 minute and 21 seconds, is gone just as quickly. Fellow compatriots the furiously fun Norgaard and slightly more restrained Under your thumb aren't lagging far behind, weighing in at a meaty 1.38 and 2.20 respectively. It soon becomes apparent that the Vaccines are not here to fool about. In fact, should the band members ever opt for an alternative career in the armed forces they would surely be destined for the SAS, lured by the regiments strict in and out no messing about approach, employing minimum fuss for maximum effect. Who dares wins indeed.
"Sometimes it takes five minutes for what you want to say and sometimes a minute and a half. We're not going to make it longer for the sake of it" opines Justin and who are we to argue when the result is as effective as this?
Eight of the eleven tracks on What did you expect from the Vaccines are sub three minutes, but there is definitely no feeling of being short changed here despite the sprawling split level Family Friend, at eight minutes thirty seconds representing the bands only epic Stairway to Heaven moment. Generally though, they stick to a winning formula of banging out intense bursts of majestic, riff-driven power-pop, each one equipped with a catchy chorus, destined to become festival anthems for adoring crowds to chant along to for years to come.
If you wanna, Wetsuit and Post break up sex are certainly songs fit to grace any stage. The phrase "all killer no filler" usually reeks of lazy journalism when it comes to album description but it certainly applies here. The Vaccines live up to their name and prove immune to the disease of padding out a long player with sub-standard material. Every single track here is a sure fire winner.
With the British music scene currently afflicted with a seemingly unstoppable plague of smarmy Simons TV reality show winners, then The Vaccines might just be the cure, the perfect antidote to irritable Cowell syndrome.
What did you expect from the Vaccines? Not a multi award nominated album as outstanding as this one, that's for sure.
I've had the album for about 6 months now and listened to it a fair few times. Indeed, after the first few listens I thought that the vaccines were the best thing I'd heard all year. Now, 6 months on I would say some of the excitement I felt when first hearing it has disappeared and quite frankly the song "if you wanna" is sounding more and more like 'what's that coming over the hill' with every play. "wetsuit" regains a quirky charm for me and I think "all in White" is a genuinely great song. For a first time listener you will still be blown away by the albums opening power of the first few tracks, drawn in by the subtle charm of the middle portion of the album before repeating that pattern in the second half of the album. If you like the strokes, with maybe a poppier, almost American bubble gum tinge to the tracks, youll like this. The faster paced tracks don't stand up as well as the slower ones, but if you've only heard the singles and are thinking about getting the album, I'm not sure theres enough extra here to warrant buying it. The test for the vaccines I think now is their next move. Their second album will be a very interesting thing.
The Vaccines are best categorised as an indie rock band and this album has just about enough good tracks for me to recommend it however there is a health warning with it, in fact the band name leaves the way open for lots of medical puns, as it is one of those albums that I found myself listening intently to for a few weeks and now I find it has reached its shelf life and apart from a couple of tracks that made the transfer to my ipod I doubt I will listen to the rest of the album very often if at all.
All in White is one of those tracks you will either love or hate, personally I love the emotional echoing vocals of lead singer Justin Young, he has a wonderfully clear and powerful voice and this is a real anthem which builds to crescendo and is a great listen. It is one of those tracks that is made to be played live and it works superbly well as festivals as well.
Opening track Wreckin Bar (Ra Ra Ra) is a bit hit and miss for me, at first I liked the chanting feel to it but after a few listens it started to leave me a bit cold. The same cannot be said for Blow It Up which has a darker feel to the intro and then settles down into a nice melody and some stunning lyrics that reverberate with lots of echo on them as if the song is performed in a cave.
Wolf Pack is another strong track with a good driving beat and this is a track that works for me as does Post Break Up Sex which pretty much does what it says on the tin and talks about the fall out from a night of sex which is regretted by both parties.
This is a good enough album but not one you will still be listening to a few months further on, having said that it is still worth a listen for the unique lyrics and some good indie music.
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.
There are many questions lurking in song and album titles. "Do you Think I'm Sexy" (No, not particularly Rod) "Who Killed the Zutons" (I don't know ,but it was not me your honour) What's the Frequency Kenneth (I'm not sure try twiddling the knob), "Do you Remember the First time (yes clear as a bell ) and now "What did You Expect From the Vaccines". This review answers the final question"
The Vaccines are a four piece London based indie band and are one of the hottest tips for 2011. Their debt album "What Did you Expect from the Vaccines" was released in March. following two very good singles "Wrecking Bar and "Post Break Up Sex"
Not another guitar based indie band with their name starting in the definitive article I hear you say. Its true the airwaves are groaning under the weight of indie bands but there is room in my heart and CD collection for a few more. The Vaccines are characterized mainly by their short snappy, energetic retro sounding ditties that echo in parts the pop punk sound of the Ramoness. Its the sound of a young band enjoying themselves and their enthusiasm sparkles through.
"Good Things Come in Small Packages"
So many bands seem to over cook their songs with unnecessarily long songs. "The Vaccines can not be accused of this with nine of the album's eleven (12 if you count the hidden track) songs coming in well under 4 minutes. Their debut single and my introduction to the band "Wrecking Bar" encapsulates the band foe me. Coming in at only one minute and twenty one seconds it is perhaps the shortest, rocket of a song since Blur's "Song 2" .The later had woo hoos whilst this one has ra ra ra! Its fast and furious with squally guitar, pounding drums and slightly shouty vocals . Its also the only song to rhyme "F Scott Fitzgerald" with the "Evening Herald". Following in the same vein is the other super short sub two minute number " Nørgaard" . This is my personal favourite on the album, as it is just classic upbeat toe tapping, thigh slapping bubblegum punk pop. Its perhaps the most Ramonesque song on the album and is so highly reminiscent of "Blitzkrieg Bop" that I want top sing "Hey Ho lets Go" to the chorus of "She's only 17 and doesn't want to go steady" It really is a joy to listen tot because of its sheer exuberance. If you Wanna" the second track on the album is not quite th same standard but still has the catchy chorus, pounding drums and a driving bass introduction
"Post Break Up Sex" their second single has been criticised by some, as having toe curling bad "sixth form poetry" style lyrics." Thais is true with such gems as "I can barely look at you, Don't tell me who you lost it to" and "don't we say we had a deal? Didn't I say how bad I feel?" but this is compensated by the gloriously catchy anthemic chorus and luscious melody. You will find yourself humming "Post Break Up Sex to forget your ex" and hoping you are not singing it aloud at the most inappropriate moments, I suppose I like it, as I empaphised with the sentiment of the song. Who has not slept with someone completely inappropriate on the rebound from a past relationship.
"We all got old at breakneck speed slow it down"
The Vaccines show a different side to their music on one of the other stand out songs "Wetsuit". This testament to the preciousness of youth is a lot slower and gentle than the previous tracks on the album giving you a breather from the breakneck speed guitars, bass and drums. Lead singer Justin Young used to a part of the nu folk movement mixing with Laura,Marling Frank Turner and Mummford and Sons under the moniker Jay Jay Pstolette and perhaps Wetsuit is a remainder from these days with its lovely chiming slightly folky burr to his vocals.backed with perhaps a bit of chiming organ.
Elsewhere songs such as "Lack of Understanding" remind me very much of Glasvegas without the incomprehensibly thick Glaswegian vocals, as they have the same anthemic, melodic but slightly melancholic vibe to them. There's even a nod to the Smashing Pumpkins in the introduction to''' "All In While" ''''before moving into more familiar Vaccines territory to make it a very pleasant, if slightly forgettable mid tempo number.
The album ends with "Family Friends" which on first glance seems uncharacteristically long at over eight minutes. However its only actually about four minute, as there is a hidden track at the end. Its got the same languid, gentle, wistful feel to it as "Wetsuit" with its references to long hot summers ending suddenly getting colder. It mutates right at the end to more of the angrier vaccines speeding up to a crescendo with crashing drums and squealing guitars. The album finally ends with the hidden track which is again a quiet acoustic , very pleasant song.
"What Did You Expect From the Vaccines" is the type of album if I was 15- 20 years younger a that would get me really excited about music.. In parts its young fresh and fast with just that hint of melancholy that shows a bit of maturity. Yes it might not be nothing new but its the sound of a band enjoying themselves and even though I'm well past my teenage years I still think its a highly listenable album.
I bought my copy from HMV for £5.99
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Somebody Else's Child
2 Wreckin' Bar (Ra Ra Ra)
3 If You Wanna
4 A Lack Of Understanding
5 Blow It Up
8 Post Break-Up Sex
9 Under Your Thumb
10 All In White
11 Wolf Pack
12 Family Friend