"If You Wanna"
The Vaccines are four young Londoners, and they can write a pop song. They can craft these one-a-half to two-and-a-half minute gold nuggets of flawless earworm guitar pop with stunning, machinelike effortlessness. The Vaccines dropped teaser tracks left and right, churned out like assembly line products, they never exceeded three minutes, they were built around riffs you’d been hearing in your sleep since you were a child, they had lyrics you probably said once to someone you liked – “You are a godsend! Do you want a boyfriend?” – or someone you wanted back – “It’s alright if you wanna come back to me!” The sound they harness so effortlessly may have been around – the Ramones, the Clash, the Strokes, you know the deal – and these are young people, yes, and a new band, yes, but they have made this sound their own. They were fresh and new because they were neither of the two. Listening to them, you could have turned the corner into 1979.
So then, what did you expect from the Vaccines? What Did You Expect from the Vaccines? You expected an album of flawless earworm guitar pop. You got one.
You expected a record of eleven songs to just edge over half an hour maybe. You didn’t quite get off so easy. You got a record about losing your friends and your lovers and growing up and becoming boring and cruel without meaning to. It just so happens some of these songs have the kind of propulsive drive that might as well hold you at gunpoint to start dancing.
That said, the record’s best songs might be the contemplative (yeah, I said contemplative!) ones – “All In White” is a live favorite for a reason, and “Wetsuit” has this haunting Hammond organ drone that gets in your bones. And then there is album closer “Family Friend,” which sounds like walking alone in the dark in the rain. Justin Young, he of perfect whiskey and honey voice, repeats the chorus – and oh, that chorus – just enough times for you to start remembering the lyrics, and that guitar chime and kick drum start speeding up just enough that you know exactly when to yell them along.
You did not expect chills from the Vaccines, probably. You got some of those. You also got a perfect record for your summer and probably one of the best released so far this year. You should have expected that.
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