The Vaccines have only been around since 2010 but they’re already raring to go and release their second album. After debut album ‘What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?’ hit our headphone only last year, the band didn’t rest on their laurels but instead toured and then jumped right back into the studio.
Follow up album ‘The Vaccines Come Of Age’ has already come under criticism from being released too soon, but is that really such a bad thing? We take an early listen to the album and let you know what we think of each track...
‘No Hope’: The opening track was also the first single, so it’s one that everyone’s already had a chance to form judgement on. That said, it also demonstrates the lack of reverb that was so prevalent in ‘What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?’ and the album is already better for it. Although the drum intro is slightly too reminiscent of Arctic Monkeys’ ‘Brianstorm’, making this not the perfect choice for The Vaccines’ reintroduction to the indie rock world, it’s still a consistently solid track.
‘I Always Knew’: A nostalgic, dreamy love song that never slips into being over the top or too emotional. Simple and effective, Justin Young tells us, ‘It’s you / it’s always you’ and manages to make every word of it sound genuine. It’s easy to get carried away while listening to this and feel like you’re in the grips of an epic romance, whether you are or not (and let’s be honest, you probably aren’t). This is one to come back to over and over.
‘Teenage Icon’: It’s probably just the way that Young insists ‘I’m nobody’s hero’ but there are moments that hark back to Stiff Little Fingers’ own ‘Nobody’s Hero.’ Still, there’s an arresting intro and the song manages to live up to it. An interesting choice for the second single and The Vaccines have never really been much of a singles band, so it makes a lot more sense in the context of the album. There’s something very ragged and unapologetic about it which gives the impression that it’s going to be absolutely great to hear live. Definitely a grower.
‘All In Vain’: ‘All In Vain’ feels a bit like we’re getting to the filler - already. There’s nothing we haven’t heard before and nothing particularly stands out either. Might be worth skipping over this one.
‘Ghost Town’: Much more like it! ‘Ghost Town’ is fast and fun and, while the lyrics aren’t life-changing, it’s so much fun to have a bit of a dance to. The song bounces along and, while it’s called ‘Ghost Town’, it feels more like being on a ghost train at times. A rumbling, bass-heavy track which promises a rollercaster ride – ‘Ghost Town’ is definitely one of the album’s highlights.
‘Aftershave Ocean’: 'Sonically experimental' seems an apt way to describe this, and the track feels like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde in musical form, unable to make its mind up between being smooth and polite or a bit more of a monster. The best way of describing it is probably that it sounds like those weirdly colourful song visualisations on Windows Media Player used to look – slightly all over the place but fascinating nevertheless.
‘Weirdo’: It feels like it’s continually reaching for something more but never quite getting there – it’s out of reach. Disappointing, because ‘Weirdo’ has all the hallmarks of a great track but just seems to be missing some sort of backbone. It’s moody in a good way, but maybe a little bit too slow and it takes until four minutes in for some sort of atmosphere to build. Too little, too late.
‘Bad Mood’: Second best on the album, following ‘I Always Knew’, ‘Bad Mood’ seems to have found the bite that ‘Weirdo’ was missing and is oh so good because of it. It’s angry and spiky and the perfect embodiment of a bad mood – the title is spot on. There’s a feeling of intensity that Young manages to encapsulate perfectly as he snarls out, ‘Are you disappointed in me? Well, I’m not as thoughtful as you thought I’d be.’ There’s a lovely, dark edge to it which hits just the right side of scary. ‘Baby, you can rattle my cage’ promises Young – yes please!
‘Change of Heart Pt 2’: As always, a ‘part 2’ track begs the question of where exactly the first part is? Still, ‘Change of Heart Pt 2’ gives the feeling that we’re picking up in the middle of the story as Young narrates a tale of doomed romance that seems as though it’d be a bit more at home in a country song. It’s enjoyable and fun, and fits in well with the cohesion on the record, but there’s sadly nothing stand-out about it.
‘I Wish I Was A Girl’: Since Young told everyone about the track where he wishes he was a girl there’s been a high level of interest, and the song lives up to it. There’s a certain creepy air to it that The Vaccines seem to embrace when talking about women – just look at ‘Norgaard’ from the first album – but this time it works. Slightly hypnotic and dirty, Young’s really tried something new with the lyrics and luckily for him, it pays off.
‘Lonely World’: A bumpy feeling romantic closer, the song on its own isn’t as great as could be hoped but it definitely works well to finish off the album. The way it builds before slowing to a halt makes it feel like the boys are shutting up shop and putting the chairs on the tables in order to mop up – there’s something resigned and beautiful about it.
So there you have it. Amidst worries that The Vaccines were simply a novelty act, or at least one that shouldn’t be releasing their next record so soon, they’ve proved that not only do they have good songs in them but they’ve got some great ones too. The Vaccines may not have come of age, but they’ve certainly created a brilliant album.