The Vaccines – English Graffiti

After bursting onto the scene as the newest in a long line of ‘saviours of British guitar music’ a few years ago, it was quite easy to dismiss The Vaccines as just another one-dimensional act championed incessantly by the British press. And to a great extent you would have been right.

The band has so far produced a sub-standard portfolio of songs that have often been riddled with clichéd lyrics and a big hint of artificial attitude.

But on English Graffiti, their third album, they have crafted a selection of songs that flow effortlessly and capture the feelings of teenage angst and sexual ambiguity to a backdrop of rock, pop and punk tunes that the likes of The Replacements would have been happy with.

‘Opener Handsome’ is a pulsating intro and its effortless mergence into the Jimmy Page-esque guitar riff in ‘Dream Lover’ is a start any band would be happy with. Elsewhere, ‘All Afternoon (In Love)’, is a lovelorn ballad that is brought to a close with a starling of acoustic guitar playing and the instrumental closer, ‘Undercover’, utilises reversed guitar sounds for a soothing finish.

While singer Justin Young still doesn’t sound wholly convincing as a lead singer and the lyrics can waver onto the side of repetition, the varying tempos and unpredictable guitar sounds, quick turns of phrase and industrial drums ensure this is an album that offers something new with each listen.

For one who has up until this point dismissed The Vaccines as another over-hyped, flash in the pan band, you can now colour me impressed as this album proves they are an act with far more strength in depth than their dressed down image suggests.


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