The Vaccines Come of Age
History is littered with forgotten British indie-rock bands. Anyone remember the Farm? How about Space Monkeys? Or the Dylans? Exactly. For every Blur or Oasis that manages to make some sort of dent in the collective consciousness of music fans, there are dozens of groups that everyone talks about for about six months before they’re completely erased from memory, presumably to make room for the next buzz band.
You might remember the Vaccines from their debut album that came out last year, What Did You Expect From the Vaccines? Or maybe not. While the album reached the Top 5 in England and spit out a handful of singles, it barely cracked the Top 200 in the U.S. The London quartet’s second album, The Vaccines Come of Age, has already hit No. 1 overseas, prolonging the band’s life expectancy for at least another six months. Don’t count on the same results here.
More than anything else, the Vaccines are, simply, forgettable. Not a single song on Come of Age stands out. With buzzing guitars anchoring most of the tracks – cleaned up a bit this time around, thanks to veteran producer Ethan Johns – the album plays up the band’s overseas reputation as purveyors of ‘90s-style indie rock. But unlike the classic groups that the Vaccines occasionally nod to (the Pixies, the Strokes, the Libertines), there’s nothing to distinguish them from the countless other British bands that are endlessly touted as the Next Big Thing.
It starts with a distorted blast of noise that gives way to the album’s best song, ‘No Hope,’ which is filled with enough teen angst to fuel a ‘90s alt-rock revival: “I wish I was comfortable in my own skin,” sings frontman Justin Young. “But the whole thing feels like an exercise in trying to be someone I’d rather not be.” It’s like the era of ‘Creep’ and ‘Loser’ all over again. But hope fades from there, as song after song checks in with the same sentiment, the same spazzy guitar riffs and the impression that the Vaccines are spinning in place.
From time to time, they ride the surf-rock wave of American indie rock (‘I Always Knew’) and hook on to a catchy chorus (‘Teenage Icon’), but by the time ‘Lonely World’ approaches the five-minute mark at the end of the album, you’ll probably forget those little early victories. Just as you’ll forget the Vaccines five or so years from now.