jason stives reviews a band he discovered when The Arctic Monkeys performed live in Philly …
I’m going to make a foolish declaration, but a noble one at best: British indie rock is completely destroying American indie rock with the kind of talent it has been producing in the past decade. The latest de facto band to force the upheaval is The Vaccines, whose debut album What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? dares people who love to be trendy to consider them anything other. The funny thing is: The Vaccines aren’t anything new, because they sound almost generic at best in the realm of obvious influences like The Strokes or The Ramones, but it’s all so serenely catchy, full of jumpy guitar licks and bombastic yet adolescent tom tom thumping. The Vaccines at best are juvenile at heart but old fashion in the cunning spirit of fun rock music.
These four Londoners all fall into another line of rock bands forcing a cultivation of early ’60s rock and roll with drawn out murmuring in the vein of The Smiths and The Stone Roses. This is made perfectly clear by the band’s recent single “Post Break-Up Sex,” an ode to calling it quits but keeping things frisky. It’s a childish notion at best and frontman Justin Young sings about it with the most callous approach, almost dreading it but longing for it.
What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? falls into the realm of most touted debut releases from the U.K., questionable upon arrival but greatly loved and never truly hated. It’s quiche at best and it may not seem too original but what did you expect other than a brief and pleasant soundtrack to your wild hot nights in Brooklyn (sorry for the hipster jab) or down to the beach for a drink and a sweat.
These simple songs of love, heartbreak, friendship, and partnership have so much spirit and so much angst riddled by a fast paced fusion of ’60s garage and indie street cred (or whatever they are building over there). Songs like “All in White” and the 90 seconds of “Norgaard” invoke fluctuating sways and moments of insanity and calm solo slow dancing. Other songs play up a heavy lo-fi attitude like “Wreckin’ Bar” and “Blow It Up” which pick up greatly on early American hardcore and punk acts like Minor Threat.
In the end, I ask the question again: What DID you expect from the Vaccine’s debut release? If you wanted some aggressive UK pop rock in the vein of The Kooks or Razorlight, well it’s close. If you’re looking for music to help blast your way down the highway as you enjoy an exciting outing, this might be just for you. Just remember: Despite the hype, The Vaccines are just your average indie rock band, and a good one at best.
Rating: 7.5 out of 10