Title: Come of Age
Record Label: Columbia
This is The Vaccines MK two: the sleeveless denim and straggly hair years. Gone are the vintage thrift store clothes which have been scruffily replaced with tatty jeans and unkempt locks, the London based four piece are shunning their indie stylings for a rock ‘n’ roll makeover.
A mere 17 months after their debut record, the quartet have readied their sophomore release The Vaccines Come of Age, obviously these boys they don’t like letting the grass grow under their feet. What is instantly noticeable with …Come of Age is how confident the band sound, Justin Young’s vocal is clear and boasts a range not utilised on their first album. Equally as musicians, The Vaccines sound tight, polished and keen to move away from being an indie band and embrace their evolution into a rock band.
This new found clarity can be attributed to producer Ethan Johns who has twiddled knobs for Kings of Leon and Elton John. Here lies the niggle with …Come of Age, with all the focus on maturing and creating a clearer sound The Vaccines have lost a little of what made them so special in the first place. Yes you can hear Young’s voice now as it’s not cloaked in reverb, and guitars cut through the air instead of blasting through fuzz but that ramshackle appeal is what made The Vaccines so palatable back in 2010.
If one song encapsulates …Come of Age its album opener and single, ‘No Hope’, the track bursts into life with a flurry of mangled chords and obliterated drums which then dissolve into a Strokes-esque jaunt that sets the blueprint for the rest of the album. The aforementioned cleaner sound lays itself bare as if to say “this is how we sound, take it or leave it”. Sonically this is a foundation layer, lyrically too, it captures Young in self doubting and self exploratory mood which then permeates through onto ‘Teenage Icon’ that illustrates the frontman’s consciousness towards his new found public image “I’m no teenage icon/I’m no Frankie Avalon”. Self exploration continues with the brooding ‘Weirdo’, western themed twanged guitars flank Young’s hushed delivery of “You know I’m fucking moody/You know I’m quite unkind”. ‘Bad Mood’ keeps the stroppy vibes going, chainsaw guitars squall as drums clatter creating a blitzkrieg of noise that has Young calmly stating he gets angrier with age and he is in a shit frame of mind. Sonically this track shares a kinship with the foursome’s first album but with ramped up aggression.
The Vaccines seemed to have embraced a 50’s/60’s Americana vibe with their second record and the track ‘I Wish I Was A Girl’ could have been swiped from the Pulp Fiction soundtrack with it’s watered down surf guitars. Equally, ‘I Always Knew’ channels spaghetti westerns through elastic guitar lines and cantering drum rolls. …Come of Age rekindles the same memories of when Arctic Monkeys visited the desert and produced Humbug, it’s full of rock ‘n’ roll good times but not ones that always hit the mark.
…Come of Age is record of confidence and self deprecation, The Vaccines may have stripped away the fuzz but it’s exposed a band still trying to find themselves. Let’s hope next year the four piece release their third record The Vaccines Become a Little Less Self Conscious.
Words and Thoughts of Adam Williams