What did we expect from the Vaccines? Not necessarily this.
FOR THOSE who refuse to accept the inevitable, The Vaccines are the ‘saviours of Indie Rock’. It must be a real kick in the teeth for those people when the band stated they wanted to be as big as Kanye West and Beyonce. English Graffiti is perhaps the bands first indication of their Pop persuasion, with their first two efforts dripping with early Strokes and Arctic Monkeys comparisons. With Come of Age and What Did You Expect from The Vaccines? falling into the category of ‘music that would be played in Skins’, English Graffiti thankfully takes the band in a new direction.
There’s only so much a band can do with straightforward Rock music. Ask Radiohead, Muse, Vampire Weekend, all bands that changed their sound and moved on from radio friendly Rock music. While The Vaccines’ earlier work was fine for what it was, another album like that would have put the final nail in the coffin. That’s not to say that there aren’t Indie Rock elements on English Graffiti. Opener ‘Handsome’ is the band pushing it just a little with a familiar sound. It’s a similar situation in ‘Radio Bikini’; like they can’t help themselves but sink into old habits.
Thankfully, Indie Rock is few and far between on this album. ‘Dream Lover’ and ‘Give Me A Sign’ are two examples of the band swinging towards a more Synth Pop sound, and closer ‘Undercover’ is a weird and intriguing closer, with tampered and reversed guitar loops. The Vaccines draw from The Strokes last effort, Comedown Machine, on ‘Minimal Affection’ (very obviously, I might add) to give a brief 80’s vibe, before it’s lost in the Pop Rock feel of ‘20/20’.
There are points I had to check I was listening to a Vaccines album. ‘(All Afternoon) In Love’ is a touching and slow paced number that abandons almost all sense of a Rock record. It’s actually quite enjoyable. Unfortunately I was rather underwhelmed the vocals Justin Young’s lyrics. Like their previous albums, the feel quite 2D and basic. It’s not so much poetry, more statements for frustrated youth. But at least the character from ‘Family Friend’ has evolved into a lost love.
On the whole though, English Graffiti isn’t anything to scream and shout about, but at the same time, it’s not bad either. I enjoyed this album a lot more than I thought I would and The Vaccines are making some headway into defining themselves with an album that channels their interests. If they keep on this road, their future can only be good.
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