The Vaccines – What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?
Back in the day, the age-old music press cycle of ‘build ’em up, knock ’em down’ gave young and naïve bands the chance to at least get to their second album before they were ruthlessly chucked on the scrap heap. Nowadays, this process is all over and done with before the bewildered wannabes have even had a chance to release that inevitable ‘damp squib’ of a debut album.
The Vaccines are the latest ‘saviours of guitar music’ to suffer this fate – with revelations of their privileged upbringing severely testing their credibility as the new voice of a skint, powerless and hopeless generation. This, along with the early whispers suggesting their debut album wasn’t all it was being cracked up to be, has led to a debut album release, previously trumpeted as one of the most important since the much-referenced Arctic Monkeys, to come and go almost unnoticed.
To be fair to The Vaccines though, it’s not their fault they’re a bit posh, and it’s not their fault their debut album isn’t as good as all that hype told us it would be – something they pre-empted with its knowing and self-deprecating title. While it may not be the instant classic we were promised, WDYEFTV is a more than decent first effort – making up for the lack of ground-breaking creativity with an album full of simple and energetic indie pop numbers. In fact, the hit rate of pop gold on WDYEFTV is nothing short of astonishing – with proper guitar-pop classics racked up and despatched with in a rapid and effortless manner not seen since The Strokes’ Is This It. ‘Wreckin’ Bar (Ra Ra Ra)’ sets the tone with a short and punchy indie dancefloor romp, with ‘If You Wanna’ following suit and revealing singer Justin Young’s propensity for Morrissey-esque turns of phrase – “That’s what all the friends I do not like as much as you say”.
As you quickly rattle through the tracks (average length is about 2 mins!) it starts to become clear why the sniffier corners of the music press have been quick to disassociate themselves from The Vaccines. This isn’t the edgy, trendy and ‘meaningful’ indie they had banked on after all; it’s joyous, innocent, fun and simple indie – the kind you get drunk to with your mates while dancing like a loon for two empty-headed minutes. At their best, like on ‘If You Wanna’, ‘Norgaard’ and ‘Post Break-Up Sex’ they’re exhilarating and infectious. However, their simplistic approach can send them down a few dead ends and leaves them occasionally sounding like a bad Embrace covers band trying out a few Courteeners songs. Don’t spend too long shuddering at that thought though, as the good far outweighs the bad. ‘A Lack Of Understanding’, ‘Blow It Up’ and ‘Under Your Thumb’ all stand out and suggest there’s more to The Vaccines than straight-forward three-chord indie – the first two adding an element of Interpol-esque intensity while ‘Under Your Thumb’ provides a welcome slice of Kings Of Leon melodica.
So, instead of believing all the anti-hype and parade-pissing being directed at The Vaccines at the minute, simply re-tune your expectations and enjoy an album chock full of simple – but incredibly fun- delights.