“I could make an observation, if you want the voice of a generation,” laments Justin Young, lead singer and guitarist of The Vaccines, as his band’s sophomore record kicks into life with the plaintively-titled ‘No Hope’. Do such statements, then, signal a gear shift in self-awareness for the indie four-piece; an act more inclined to sing the praises of Swedish models or chant “rah, rah, rah!” to a frenetic 90-second Ramones-esque track?
The answer to that becomes clearer as The Vaccines’ Come of Age neatly unfolds into a record that basks in a growing sense of maturity from one of the most hard-working bands around (seriously – their touring habits are ridiculous). This diligent ethos has clearly had a more-than-welcome impact on their songwriting with a variety of styles present. This ranges from guitars that appear to have been borrowed from Graham Coxon in the unmistakably Blur-sounding (and rather wonderfully titled) ‘Aftershave Ocean’, to the jaunty pop stylings of ‘All in Vain’ that is a good few hundred miles from ‘Wreckin Bar…’ territory. The American Midwestern-bar grooves of the eyebrow-raisingly titled ‘I Wish I Were A Girl’ take a slightly more laidback approach, but still possess a glistening edge that’ll be truly realised when performed live. Such stylistic departures feel welcome rather than perplexing, ensuring that Justin and co. have leapt right into exploring their sonic pallet in an effort to navigate their way around the much-maligned ‘second-album-syndrome’ that has plagued many a promising band looking (but ultimately failing) to capitalise on the successes of their debut.
There’s no need to panic, however, if you’re looking for the brooding indie-rock that enabled ‘What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?’ to be an enormous success: there’s plenty to keep you happy. ‘Bad Mood’ builds perfectly into the kind of Vaccines cocktail we’ve come to expect: the pogoing drums and scorching guitar hooks embedding that sense of reckless abandon we all associate with them. ‘Misbehaviour’ is pretty rockin’ too: sure to spark a mosh pit or two come their November UK tour with its unrelenting pace and boundless energy.
There’s plenty to praise here, but you do get the idea that one or two of the numbers will take a while to truly take off. ‘Lonely World’, for instance, drags its heels as it refuses to build into anything more than the obligatory ballad, albeit one that’s all dressed up in guitar fuzz. Luckily, these minor indiscretions are indeed minor, ensuring that The Vaccines have leapt over nearly all of the potential stumbling blocks in the making of this record. They’ve expanded their creative boundaries and explored their place as the big deal that they’ve come to be in the past year or so; all of this without comprising the mentality that endeared their legions of fans to them in the first place. Most promisingly, it offers a great deal of hope for the future that The Vaccines are a band ready and confident enough to dominate the next decade.