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The Vaccines Come of Age Review

Album. Released 2012.  

BBC Review

Foursome delivers its second album in 18 months – but why delay when it’s this great?

Camilla Pia 2012

Eighteen months ago, The Vaccines asked, What Did You Expect? But their rather sedate debut left many unconvinced that they were worthy of the buzz and hysteria that heralded their arrival.

Since that first effort they’ve weathered some unnecessary posho jibes, bouts of illness and the constant, and dreary, debate about the relevance of their Strokes- and Arctic Monkeys-inspired indie rock in a post-xx sonic landscape. Have they single-handedly saved guitar music? Sigh… no.

Instead, they’ve stuck to their guns and bashed out killer show after killer show, taken on a handful of interesting collaborations (with R. Stevie Moore and The Horrors, among others) and, somehow, found the time to write and record a new album.

We’ll leave the come of age/growing up puns for other publications, but yes, it’s true the band have matured musically. Their writing and delivery is more creative, the lazy lyrics (rhyming sex with ex and songs about wetsuits) and indifferent drawl of frontman Justin Young appear to be a thing of the past, and the four-piece sound more invigorated and inspired than ever. Riffs and rhythms attack from the off, as No Hope kick-starts a record fizzing with ideas, tight melodies and loveable sass.

And this new incarnation of The Vaccines sounds so thrilling because they’re taking more chances. They combine unexpected off-kilter twists and turns on All in Vain with scratchy stomps and strange vocal ticks in Aftershave Ocean; dark skew-whiff riffs in Ghost Town and Weirdo with brash mass-chant-worthy choruses and electrifying Freddie Cowan solos.

Lonely World and I Always Knew see them delve deep into their emotions, and Teenage Icon and Bad Mood get more and more toe-tappingly stroppy and infectious with every listen. I Wish I Was a Girl, however, is sadly less gender exploration for frontman Young, more his ham-fisted take on what it’s like to be a lady (all haute couture and “seductive mystery” apparently). “Life is easy when you’re easy on the eye,” he ventures. Um, yeah.

That blunder aside, Come of Age proves this band has so much more to offer than the straight-up guitar stodge they’ve dished up previously. Sophistication suits them.

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