Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Review: The Vaccines - What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?

So late last year I was made aware of a new band tipped for big things, and tipped to in some people's words "save guitar music" (which these days basically translates as any proper music getting into the charts at all), and was introduced to them via last year's single 'Wreckin Bar' and the incredible 'Blow It Up'. After the next single 'Post Break Up Sex' appeared in the charts and on many radios, the expectations for this band were very high, perhaps reflected by the title of their debut album..... 

Recorded in a couple of weeks during the Autumn of 2010, 'What Did You Expect From The Vaccines' is quite simply one of the great debut albums of this day and age. And coming from a band who haven't even been together for a year, this record is astonishing. Opening with the 83 second blast of 'Wreckin Bar', it is a bright energetic intro, with its no-nonsense power chords and a hyperactive sound bringing to mind Ramones-esque surf punk. After this short, sharp jab is 'If You Wanna', an absolutely incredible tune. Again the chords are bright and simple, the modern riffs of the verse blend with a hint of a 60's pop melody, and then it jumps into a chorus as addictive as anything you will ever hear. 'Lack Of Understanding' shows another dimension to the band, where they combine their minimal-chord style with an Editors-like style of melancholy, and (am I the only one to notice this) a very, very tiny hint of Embrace in the vocal delivery, and then comes the huge Mary Chain-esque pound of 'Blow It Up', with an massively towering chorus and a wall of glassy guitars.  

The VaccinesOn to the sky high swoon of 'Wetsuit' next, where the previously heard melancholy is brightened before rising into a soaring bridge and a straightforward Beach Boys-esque chorus, touched with a bit of Spector-like production. The sharp bubblegum punk returns on 'Norgaard', blazing along like a sunny British take on the Ramones, before 'Post Break Up Sex' reprises the melancholy with a beautifully sad melody and a darkly anthemic chorus.
It has to be said at this stage in the band's career, the album as a whole certainly isn't the most diverse, but the formula of surf/garage/punk/pop/indie works well enough for the record's first half, that some of the songs seem to have companion tracks on the second half. For example 'Under Your Thumb' is a more reflective relative of 'If You Wanna', with a breezy chorus slightly recalling Kings Of Leon at their best. And 'All In White' takes that same attractive melancholy from 'Lack Of Understanding' and marries it with stunning surf pop melodies and huge washes of guitar. 

The VaccinesThe lively, sunny punk of 'Wolf Pack' comes with another great chorus as well as a hint of The Housemartins in the musical stylings. And that sparkling 60's surf vibe of 'Family Friend' is almost like a companion to 'Wetsuit', with its simple lyrics, simple chords and simple genius. Imagine if Interpol were capable of writing instantly catchy tunes that sounded a bit like the Beach Boys and The Velvet Underground. Well it wouldn't sound far away from this, and as it gradually speeds into a pounding climax, the album is brought to a fantastic close. And then there's a hidden track,a quiet, understated piano lament completely at odds with the rest of the album.

Since buying this CD I have been unable to leave it alone for more than a day. Often on this album, the tunes are so brilliantly catchy that attempting to sum up their awesome way with melody in words is difficult, but for sure these songs HAVE to be heard. 12 incredible songs and many, many melodies that will stick with you for a long time. And all in just over 33 minutes.9/10

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