‘The Vaccines Come Of Age’ (COLUMBIA)
Recommended TrackWeirdo, Teenage Icon, Bad Mood
Less than two years ago, The Vaccines put two songs online. The success they’ve achieved since is indisputable. They’ve emerged as a brazenly important band, despite sniping, throat surgery and being shoved into the bizarre debate over the health of ‘guitar music’. They’re plagued by expectation and scepticism. This unavoidable, difficult situation stains their second album. Lyrically, it’s jammed with disappointment, inadequacy and the kind of self deprecating, knowing dejection derived from staring into the rain. Sad as they are (“You look disappointed in me, I’m in a bad, bad mood” – ‘Bad Mood’), Justin Young’s vocals have expanded in both content and tone. He yells, croons and growls away; while his protagonist’s hands are thrust into pockets, bottom lip pushed firmly forward. The playing is eye-opening, too. Ethan Johns’ production gives the instruments more space, accentuating the improvement; Freddie Cowan’s notice-me guitar struts prettily throughout; even during the sedate moments (his plaintive plucking on ‘Weirdo’ matches Justin’s chorus and some grungy atmospherics on the album’s best and most highly evolved song). Similarly, ‘Lonely World’’s dreamy amble lasts five whole minutes – like ‘Wetsuit’ dragged into a dark corner for a long cuddle. Even the more recognisably-Vaccines songs (the Clash-heavy ‘No Hope’ and the insatiable ‘Teenage Icon’) seem older and wiser. They’ve honed their ability to be urgent and primitive, to write songs that make boys and girls want to snog each other, and added nuance and depth. Everything feels bold, fast and confident and influences are worn well (despite ‘Ghost Town’’s resemblance to The Fratellis’ ‘Creepin’ Up The Backstairs’). With pace, bravery and growth, The Vaccines have forced the focus upon themselves; their experiences; their second album. ‘The Vaccines…’ is an introspective coping exciting enough to make life much easier for them from now on.