Review Summary: The 'short, fast & loud' mentality has been ditched for something more mature and spaced out; The Vaccines have "Come of Age". Is it for the better? That's up for debate.
There's perhaps no more fitting album title than The Vaccines
' "Come of Age
", with the British four-piece doing exactly that on their sophomore follow-up to 2011's smash debut "What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?
". The 'short, fast, loud' mentality of their debut has been replaced with a more mature sound, and something that will no doubt appeal to a larger audience while giving their fans something to cheer about simultaneously.
If the album's title wasn't a big enough hint regarding the change in direction of the band, then the album opener and lead single "No Hope" will sort you out in no time. You'd be surprised to hear the minimalistic clean guitar and vocals that bust through the initial plethora of sound the track begins with - it's almost as if the first few seconds of the song are the remnants of The Vaccines' old sound, before their newfound maturity and relaxed attitude take over. The track holds a similar tempo to slower numbers like "Wetsuit" from their debut, and is nicely accompanied by "I Always Knew" which succeeds it. Both tracks employ much softer dynamics than what we're generally used to from the band, and it definitely works for what it is. Sure, they're not as 'in-your-face' as "Wreckin' Bar" or "If You Wanna" from LP number one, but that's not what they're meant to be. They're chilled out, mature tracks that aim to appeal to a broader audience and let them know "what's up". And to me, they achieve this aim, as does the album as a whole.
The follow-up single "Teenage Icon" is probably the most 'hit worthy' track on the album, and to be quite honest it wouldn't look totally out of place on their first album. It definitely has a lyrical charm and a certain sing-a-long value that this album doesn't really have, in contrast to previous efforts. Vocal wise, singer Justin Young has done well to mix things up a little more, with commendable efforts on tracks like "All In Vain" and "I Wish I Was A Girl", the latter of which bears melodic resemblance to Gotye's smash hit "Somebody I Used To Know". He definitely puts in an effort to take center stage on a few tracks, almost producing a country western vibe at times (as silly as it sounds, see "All In Vain"). To be frank, he sounds great in these parts, but there's a definite inconsistency there. I feel that some tracks are too bland in general, and bland vocals don't help that at all. Thankfully, there were only a handful of moments when this thought entered my mind.
In my own opinion, the highlights of the album include "Weirdo", something that I can imagine Radiohead coming out with albeit slightly more 'mainstream', and "Bad Mood"; one of perhaps only two tracks that would fit perfectly on their debut album. While these tracks and those on the rest of the album are decent, and in fact are actually quite good, it just doesn't feel like it has that playback value of "What Did You Expect...
". The dynamics, variation and vocal delivery have definitely improved, but they lack that charm and sing-a-long nature attributed to their first release. To me, that's what made The Vaccines great. And while this is definitely a great album, it's not as fun and unique as its predecessor. Any other band and it would probably garner a 4/5, but just because I know what they're capable of producing, I give it a 3.5. The Vaccines have certainly Come of Age. For the better? That's for you to decide.