Sunday, March 20, 2011
Album Review: The Vaccines - What Did You Expect from the Vaccines? (3/5)
Remember the Arctic Monkeys 2006 debut, Whatever People Say I Am, that's What I'm Not? The Vaccines 2011 debut, What Did You Expect from the Vaccines?, reminds me a lot of that: British rock band emerges on the scene with a lot of hoopla, releases lo-fi recording of short (generally less than 3 minutes), propulsive (no slow songs) rockers. Although there hasn't been as much hoopla, The Vaccines are launching behind their #3 placing on the BBC Sounds of 2011 poll, which certainly has given them a good push, even if they aren't sending their singles very far into the top 40.
Several of the songs manage to clock in not just below 3 minutes but below 2! First track "Wreckin' Bar (Ra Ra Ra)," all of 82 seconds, is a burst of energy that is literally over before it even gets started. It's followed by the more substantive "If You Wanna," and then the quite decent "A Lack of Understanding," which delivers an earnest pop melody and a decent bass line.
Besides Arctic Monkeys, the Vaccines' debut recalls other prominent post-punk rockers from the last 10 years. Recent hit "Post Break-Up Sex" sounds a lot like vintage Strokes material. It's a fun song with a tune that suggests an earnest love song, but lyrics that betray that the band's intention is just getting laid. "Wetsuit" goes for a bit more grandeur, similar to Glasvegas' debut. "All in White" strives for rock grandeur too, but misses the mark. "Family Friend," which clocks in over 4 minutes longer than the first track, is better, building a nice warm vibe over gentle guitar melodies that turn bolder later as the tempo gradually increases to break-neck pace.
I know the lo-fi sound goes with the territory for this kind of music, but frankly I'm getting a bit tired of it. "Blow It Up," for example heavily distorts what would otherwise be a nice guitar layering. Music from long ago sounded this way because they couldn't get their hands on better recording equipment. Today there is no excuse.
The album is not bad, but it's not breaking any ground that hasn't already been fully and more skillfully covered by other recent acts.
Best: Post Break-Up Sex, A Lack of Understanding, Family Friend