sun 24/03/2019

CD: The Vaccines – Come of Age | reviews, news & interviews

CD: The Vaccines – Come of Age

CD: The Vaccines – Come of Age

Will the second album be kill or cure for the much-hyped quartet?

The Vaccines: buzzsaw rock gets another shot in the arm

Growing up in public is never easy. After all the attention that The Vaccines attracted with their post-Strokes smash-and-grab debut What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? they have plenty to prove with their follow-up. Do they duplicate the Ramones-meets-Ronettes-in-the-Hadron-Collider template or go for something different and sophisticated? Well, they’ve got a new look, ditching the leather for denim and growing their hair, and the sequel certainly sounds different, but whether it is more sophisticated is another matter entirely.

Come of Age is a tremendously easy album to like but a hugely difficult album to love. It certainly wears its influences on its denim sleeve. On opener “No Hope” vocalist Justin Young has a fetching quasi-parodic Dylanesque whine, while “I Always Knew” is a cheesy rock 'n' roll pastiche – a fromage homage? – that gallops along like something that fell off the Grease soundtrack. At times it is so simplistic it makes The Libertines seem like Ligeti. Public growing pains are echoed by corny lyrics that address the universal angst of post-adolescence. On “Teenage Icon” the irritatingly handsome Young moans about being out of shape with messy hair. Well, I'll happily swap bodies with you, Justin.

The Vaccines have certainly been listening to more than old Jesus and Mary Chain albums this time round. Last month they released a free download featuring lo-fi covers of tracks by Abba, Nick Lowe, Wire and Jonathan Richman and that mix of melodic musicality and minimalism can be heard seeping through on Come of Age. When the band pull it off, as on the punchy, punky “Bad Mood”, it is a joy. But when they don’t, as on the dreary “All in Vain” which could almost pass for a Travelling Wilburys outttake, it is plain embarrassing. The Vaccines have always felt lightweight and contrived compared to, say, Arctic Monkeys, but they do have their moments. Come of Age is essentially a throwaway pop album, but as throwaway pop albums go it is one worth keeping.

The Vaccines perform "No Hope"

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