Review Summary: An album with great musicianship and eccentric songwriting...and that's it.
If you were to ask me what I expected from The Vaccines before I listened to them, I would most likely say something about how popular they've quickly become in their home country of England, and how England always has the coolest music festivals with bands like The Vaccines drawing in massive crowds. But what are we really supposed to expect from The Vaccines? Nowadays, what do we expect of any band that begins the way The Vaccines have began in England? Well, we expect an album that will give us a reason to see them at a huge music festival in a tent with a thousand other people. And that is exactly what The Vaccines did.
But, doing so, they suffer from half-decent lyrics and semi-original melodies, all for the sake of an irresistible catch, ultimately weighing down their sound as a whole. The album feels almost blank in a way; nearly every song quickly passing by with 2 and a half minutes worth of energy, loud, reverberated guitars, rapid hi-hat crushing, and [most of the time] slow, booming vocals. Yet, this mixture tends to drag and repeat, causing songs like "Under Your Thumb" and "Blow It Up" to become forgettable. Vocalist Justin Young's lyrics tend to drift along similar topics, like the abandonment of immaturity ("Family Friend", "Wetsuit") and confusion in a relationship ("Post Break-Up Sex", "A Lack of Understanding", "If You Wanna"), but ultimately lack enough depth to have the listener put in the situation. Similar phrases like "I don't really know if they do, but they might" and "Hell, nobody does, I guess" repeat throughout the album, each ill-fitting phrase negatively reaching the listeners.
When The Vaccines fail in lyricism, they make up for in musicianship and energy, specifically with drummer Pete Robinson. His eccentric performance makes each song more exciting than the next, carefully building to the finish every time. The simplicity of the guitar solos from Freddie Cowan fits each song well and adds a friendly touch of originality to the songs. Lastly, although many songs lack a unique and deep feeling, The Vaccines never fail to make a catchy tune. The cheerful ring of the chorus of "If You Wanna" immediately attracts the listener, as well as the raw energy displayed in tracks like "Norgaard" and "Wreckin' Bar (ra ra ra)." The catchy simplicity that the album repeats is a surefire way to fill up a festival set, and the Vaccines deserve a positive note for that.
Overall, The Vaccines gave us what to expect. A fun record all together, but one that lacks a flow of uniqueness and originality from start to finish. A standout track like "Post Break-Up Sex" clearly displays that unique quality while still remaining catchy that The Vaccines need, but for now, they are focused on giving us a reason to stand behind a sweaty, shirtless man while we enjoy the band that's playing in front of us.