Album Review: The Vaccines Come of Age

The Vaccines have been known to indie music fans for about 18 months now, and here they are already with their second album. The debut album What did you Expect from the Vaccines? became a triumph with their fans but a let down with the critics, after a lot of hype surrounding the new band.

So it fell to that all-important second album had to have some clout and get these four guys established as a band to be taken seriously. After reviews in Q magazine and the Guardian online I was expected to be disappointed with the album, I shouldn’t have read these reviews.

The rockers have come back with some softer, almost Dylan-esque sounds whilst keeping their indie rock fans happy with some hard bass. Front man Justin Young has also changed dramatically, from the shy, scared, clean-cut singer at Isle of Wight festival in 2011 to this typically alternative look of dirty unkempt hair, bushy beard and staying in the same outfit for every show.

The rest of the band seemed to have follow Young’s lead, on the whole they now look more of the band they want to be, but are they quite there yet? The album is a punchy, sometimes melancholic showcase of what The Vaccines are about. Songs you have probably already heard are No Hope and Teenage Icon, both are peppy and loud with lyrics such as Reserved and shy, your average guy/I’m nobody’s hero from Teenage Icon and I could bore you with the truth/ an uneventful youth from No Hope. Both very Vaccines.

They seem to be playing down their rocker demeanor somewhat and emphasizing how seemingly unaware they are of their popularity, showing some of the shyness they once had early last year. The surprises from this album are I Always Knew and Aftershave Ocean, both provide a deeper insight into the band and take on a calmer sound (and a few higher notes for Young).

Aftershave Ocean is simply beautiful and really unexpected from this band, a sort of love song for the modern age indie lover. The lyrics You are pulling the wool over/ Wouldn’t you rather know/ I am overindulging you/ Happier down there in your Aftershave Ocean tell a story that we have never heard from the band before. It is slow and fast, high and low, with the whole thing leaving you in a dream like state. Of course a guitar solo from Freddie Cowan is needed and you are snapped out of it back into Vaccines territory.

But then we get back to what The Vaccines are all about, rocking droning sounds with a heavy drum from Pete Robertson and solid bass from Cowan. Bad Mood takes you back to the early band days (well it’s only been a year but still) and needs the littlest input from Young to make it a great track.

The album ends with Lonely World, another change in tempo for the band. There will be no moshing at festivals and gigs to this song, I will hold you close because it’s a lonely world means it will probably be played on loop in some young teen girls bedroom. It’s a fitting end to a great second album, the band has grown and seem to have gelled more as a four piece rather than front man Young lapping the limelight.

Skip to track five Ghost Town

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