Album Review / English Graffiti – The Vaccines

In the past The Vaccines have been seen as a band to encapsulate teen angst and rebellion, being the soundtrack to many a first festival-goer’s summer. However, it’s clear the West London boys don’t like to be defined by one genre, with their previous two LPs – What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? and Come of Age – both deviating slightly from the other’s sound. Certainly, English Graffiti does not disappoint in this respect.

Opener ‘Handsome’ rattles through in just over two minutes, essentially this album’s ‘Nørgaard’, with the Ramones influence being inescapable to the ears and striking the listener as a track that could just as easily have been lifted from their debut. Other tracks in the same vein are ’20/20′ and ‘Radio Bikini’, each laced with pop-punk style and high-octane drum beats that could definitely make whole festival tents jump and mosh in a heartbeat. ‘Give Me A Sign’ is a similar giant, pairing with ‘Handsome’ to show off The Vaccines’ talent of writing enormous, sing-along choruses. Second single ‘Dream Lover’ changes the pace of the album significantly, driving guitars and an enormously powerful 80s-esque chorus, prompting lead singer Justin Young to admit to Radio 1 DJ Huw Stephens that it is “the best pop song we’ve written.”

‘Dream Lover’ is just the first of many songs on English Graffiti to feature a heavy sense of dystopian science-fiction, with space-like elements giving their third offering a much more ‘adult’ and dreamy state of mind; the music video to accompany said song is no exception to this. The rhythmic synth and obvious electro-pop influence of ‘Minimal Affection’ adds to the eclectic track-listing of the album, with ‘Want U So Bad’ cementing this feeling with much more of an other-worldly and brooding quality. The melancholic nature of the record is most evident on ‘(All Afternoon) In Love’, adding more to the dream-like nature of English Graffiti and acting almost as a love letter to 10cc. ‘Maybe I Could Hold You’ follows on from this melancholic 80s-style theme, however with much more of a sensual tone.

This is The Vaccines’ most diverse album yet and illustrates to us just how much reinvention is key to a band like The Vaccines, if they are to keep making records and selling out tours. It also highlights the talent of the band; for whilst What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? is still heralded as one of the best debuts in recent years, they’re evidently not afraid to try something new and break out of their indie-rock shell.

English Graffiti is out today, check it out here.

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Words by Kirstie Sutherland

[Originally written for The Indiependent]

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