Album Review: The Vaccines – English Graffiti

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Post punk/pop band The Vaccines third full length album is filled with anger, sensuality, and self-realization, all portrayed through trashing and buzzing instrumentals and vocals. This transformation from their heavier tracks to a more matured persona feels honest and straightforward, and English Graffiti may be their best record yet because of this musical epiphany.

Despite The Vaccines’ overall mainstream appeal brought upon from their first two albums as well as their EP, English Graffiti is more matured and outspoken, and almost seems delightfully out of character as a result. Heavy opener “Handsome” radiates on buzzing guitars and a tumultuous vocal that sounds like a million words a minute, while their single “Dream Lover” is smooth and sensual at the start and then explodes at the chorus. The garage rock sound is suffocating throughout the first half of the album, and ultimately fails during tracks like “20/20” and “Radio Bikini”, but is slightly more palatable and more skillfully used in tracks like “Minimal Affection” and “Denial.” The 80’s electronic beat in these tracks as well as their skill with the use of synth are great, and they are definitely the best tracks from the album because of it. The bouncing pizzicato of guitars in “Want You So Bad” mixed with the crooning vocals of frontman Justin Young is addictive, albeit frighteningly comparable to fellow British indie band Arctic Monkeys. Even though the album thrashes and rages for the majority of the time, there are still slower songs, like the title track as well as the sunkissed ballad “(All Afternoon) In Love.” Overall, the album does have the feeling of being disconnected and disjointed at times, and while these multiple personalities sometime add to the sense of new inspiration, they often times end up making the listener feel confused in the sense of their context. The tracks that ultimately save the album are the ones steeped in emotion and passion, and these definitely prove that The Vaccines can still feel something powerful.

The band has said that they wanted to create an album that sounds great right now, but won’t necessarily stand up to the test of time. It’s an interesting idea, and should be taken into consideration while listening. While it’s not the most cohesive album, it’s still unusually unique and definitely authentic, and in the end, that’s what makes people want to keep listening.

6.5/10

P

photo courtesy of npr
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