sat 20/07/2024

CD: The Vaccines - What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? | reviews, news & interviews

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

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

Forget the hype, this building-block rock is just alright

The Vaccines: 'Alright'

Judging by the ballyhoo London’s Vaccines generated at the beginning of the year, it seemed a dead cert that they’d be pretty spiffy. If not the best thing since sliced bread, then they’d at least be fairly toothsome. Based on this, though – their debut album – it’s impossible to see what the fuss was about. What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? is alright, a bunch of familiar indie building blocks reassembled in a way that neither thrills nor surprises.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with music that reconfigures existing templates. If it sparkles, has verve and panache, and – cut-up technique-style – puts it all back together in surprising ways, it can thrill. The early Rolling Stones’s Home Counties Chuck Berry homage was kinetic and irresistible. No one begrudges the Sex Pistols borrowing from the New York Dolls. Less pantheistically, Glasvegas’s Jesus and Mary Chain overhaul worked a treat. Brooklyn’s Frankie Rose and the Outs take a raft of Eighties/Nineties indie styles and joyfully run with them. But over a whole album, The Vaccines’ Strokes/Mary Chain/Ramones blend is delivered so drably it fails to engage. It comes, and it goes.

Individually, songs work fine. “Post Break-Up Sex” (their second single) is catchy, its lyrics wryly humorous and knowing. “Blow It Up” is anthemic and could even become a stadium sing-along. “Wreckin Bar (Ra Ra Ra)” is A-OK Ramones lite. Beyond the weedy production, a core part of the problem is singer Justin Young’s drab monotone (in a former life he was folkie Jay Jay Pistolet). With The Strokes, it works due to Julian Casablancas's NYC/Lou Reedisms. Only on closing cut “Family Friend” (an overlong echo of “Just Like Honey”) does Young push his voice into other registers, offering any drama. The unlisted final track, the solo piano reflection “Somebody Else’s Child”, is the highlight as it ditches the templates. If What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? had come out on an Eighties/Nineties indie like The Subway Organisation, it would have fit snugly without attracting too much attention. But right now, and on Sony, this unambitious photocopy of a photocopy is, well, alright.

Watch The Vaccines' video for “Post Break-Up Sex”

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