Newest Review: ... the excitement I felt when first hearing it has disappeared and quite frankly the song "if you wanna" is sounding more and more ... more
The Vaccines' response to a music world full of expectation
What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? - The Vaccines
Member Name: BRoyJenkins
What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? - The Vaccines
Advantages: Some very strong songs that could factor in the best of the year
Disadvantages: Aside from the high expectations, there is some unmemorable work here
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.
Summary: Hopelessly hyped but some unbelievably good songs offer oodles of promise for The Vaccines