The Vaccines: What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? Review
Hype can be a bitch. There’s nothing more underwhelming than heralding a band as the “next big thing” only to have the hype write a check that the music can’t cash. For better or worse, this kind of hype is inevitable and it happens ever year. The only difference with The Vaccines is that it’s been a good few years since such anticipation has been built around a UK rock band. Think of The Vaccines as this year’s NME equivalent to the Arctic Monkeys, only better. At this point it may be a little early to judge whether or not The Vaccines will suffer the fate of the hype machine, but their debut record and live clips floating around prove they are worth the attention and praise. Their debut album album, What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?, combines several Rock n Roll influences from just about ever decade from the ’50s to present to bring together a collection of danceable, catchy, and mostly straight-forward albeit well-executed pop rock songs that will bode well in the coming summer.
Fronted by Justin Young, formally the acoustic-totting dude who went under the solo moniker Jay-Jay Pistolet, the band lists their immediate influences as “50s rock n roll, ’60s garage and girl groups, ’70s punk, ’80s American hardcore, C86 and good pop music.” To simplify, The Vaccines are a sort of mish-mash of the said influences. However, immediate sonic comparisons could be made to The Smiths, Jesus and Mary Chain, The Libertines and The Ramones. Young’s baritone voice sounds a lot like a cheerier Morrissey throughout the album – though the commonality in mopey heartbreak is present on songs like “A Lack of Understanding,” “All In White,” and “Family Friend.” Most of the tracks follow a standard verse-chorus-verse traditional rock/pop formula with minimal variation – save for a few. The album kicks off with the short and soaring track, “Wreckin’ Bar (Ra Ra Ra),” before leading into “If You Wanna,” one of the band’s earliest songs. The slow-burner, and most recent single, “All In White,” is a Killers-esque number that is easily one of the album’s strongest tracks and is the best example of Young’s vocal ability. That song is followed-up by the equally blistering “Wolf Pack,” a song simply about the people you hold close. The snappy track, “Norgaard,” an almost clear riff rip-off of The Ramones’ “Blitzekreg Bop,” is still one hellava minute-and-a-half banger. The album flows pretty seamlessly throughout and is capped off by the slow two-part, “Family Friend,” which might hint towards where the band could take their sound in the future.
There’s nothing overly complex about the music that The Vaccines make. That said, it’s refreshing hearing pop rock that, while not wholly original, is nevertheless utterly cool and confident. And that’s what is so great about an album like What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? It never attempts to be something that it’s not: It’s a fun album filled with big, sing-along choruses and even bigger hooks. It bursts with youthfulness and hones in on the kind of urgent swagger most rock and roll music is sorely lacking in the current music scene. As much as The Vaccines channel their influences from decades past, they also feel like a reincarnation of the rock revivalists of the early ’00s with bands like The Stokes, The Hives, The Vines and Arctic Monkeys. And like said bands, they are able to build upon and manipulate the best parts of early influences to bring something fresh and new to an otherwise dying breed of pop music. Will The Vaccines fade away faster than they burned into “buzz-worthy” popular consciousness? You be the judge.