Under Review: The Vaccines – What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?

Not since the Arctic Monkeys landed back in 2006 has a British rock band reached our shores with the built-in buzz carried by The Vaccines. Formed just last year, the London quartet follows a lot of the same musical lineage as their early ‘00s predecessors. The Vaccines’ full-length debut, What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?, delivers just about what you’d expect based on the album’s impressive prerelease singles. Then again, there are a number of songs that veer off into territories that hint at this young band’s versatility. An unabashedly hooky record, What Did You Expect boasts a big, roomy sound and a relentless pacing. The album begins with one of its strongest tracks, “Wreckin’ Bar (Ra Ra Ra),” an 81-second headrush of surf guitars, pub chants and literary references. Oh right, these guys also know how to write really great songs that are a lot smarter than they might initially sound.

Much of What Did You Expect’s lyrical content falls into one of two categories: lovelorn or nostalgically celebratory. Singer Justin Haywood’s pining for the ladies runs both big (a supermodel on “Nørgaard”) and small (a departed lover on “Under Your Thumb”). Emotions also ooze out of “Post Break-Up Sex,” which is sure to become an anthem for knuckleheads everywhere. More mature songs like “Wetsuit” and “A Lack Of Understanding” are refreshing reprieves from the ‘lad’ attitude that dominates England’s indie rock scene. The Vaccines’ lyrics don’t always need to make sense, but they serve the melodies and choruses quite well as mere strings of word sounds. “If You Wanna” repeats its title in various permutations and the crescendo coda of “Family Friend” compliments “Wetsuit” in its portraiture of innocence lost and regained.

Like any other band delivering a highly­-anticipated debut, The Vaccines slip up every now and again. “All In White” takes far too long to get to a passable climax and hidden track “Somebody Else’s Child” sounds like a demo that shouldn’t have been tacked on at the end. For the most part, though, the songs condense their hooks into tight enough packages that the first few listens won’t reveal all the cleverly-penned intricacies. No matter what kind of staying power The Vaccines themselves end up having, What Did You Expect is an exciting document of a band that’s keeping the quest for the ‘Next Big Thing’ very much alive.

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~ by E. on April 25, 2011.

One Response to “Under Review: The Vaccines – What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?”

  1. I ❤ this album so bad. Nice review Eric!

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