March 12, 2011 12:12 am

The Vaccines: What Did You Expect from The Vaccines?

 

The Vaccines

What Did You Expect from The Vaccines?

(Columbia)

4 star rating

If the Vaccines are the cure, what’s the problem? In a word, Britpop. In two words, Pete Doherty.

UK guitar bands enjoyed a boom lasting from the Blur-Oasis glory years in the mid-1990s to bust a decade later with the Libertines, a decline encapsulated by the rake’s progress of the wastrel Doherty. Can the Vaccines – hyped as saviours of the British guitar band – turn it round? Or is the genre beyond saving?

I suspect the latter: in which case this album is the fleeting moment of lucidity before the patient expires.

Opening with the Ramones-inspired “Wreckin’ Bar (Ra Ra Ra)”, the songs mix surf-pop melodies and buzz saw guitars with echoing layers of reverb and yearning vocals as if torn between footloose escapism and the mournful knowledge of time passing.

Songs fizz by, yet lyrics convey a sense of belatedness, as if arriving too late at a party (“We all got old at breakneck speed,” “It’s only been a year/But it feels like a lifetime here”). The Pulp-channelling sentiments of “Post Break-up Sex” sum it up: What Did You Expect from The Vaccines? is the compensatory fling after a relationship collapses.

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