Back in the good old 1960's, rock bands would often churn out two records a year. Although The Vaccines haven't quite managed that, the follow-up to 2011's 'What Did You Expect from The Vaccines?' has come out just one year later. So while this old school approach to album making is somewhat admirable, unfortunately 'Come Of Age' is a bland, mediocre collection of songs and it feels like the band have rushed and settled for second best.
If their debut album title was an unapologetic apology, so what? It was their first album and they had nothing to lose. This time around, the stakes are higher and the pressure is greater. We all know if you put a stinker out on a major label these days they'll drop you like a sack of yesterday's s**t. But by trying to play it safe with their second album, The Vaccines have created a dull record that sounds like a Strokes B-side compilation.
Gone is the rawness and pop-punk catchiness of 'What Did You Expect.' and in comes longer, less catchy, thoughtless songs. The band sounds bored, lethargic and uninspired, too afraid to take any chances or experiment with sounds and parts. 'Come Of Age' is certainly not the voice of a generation and, frankly, it sounds like it could've been recorded in a day.
One of the biggest problems with 'Come Of Age' is that The Vaccines don't appear to know what they want to be and the result is that it's neither one thing nor the other. It's part Strokes and a tad Pixies. It's a little Kaiser Chiefs with some Arctic Monkeying around.
In opener 'No Hope', singer Justin Young does a pretty good Bob Dylan impression and, as a listener, I latched on to this and thought: 'Okay, Bob Dylan, I get it, this could work,' but then he doesn't do it again for the rest of the album and I just started thinking: 'I need to buy toilet paper.'
One theme that runs consistently through 'Come Of Age' is Young's self-deprecating lyrics. On arguably the best song of the album, 'Teenage Icon', he drones: 'Oh look at me so ordinary/no mystery/no great capability.' He continues slagging himself off on 'Weirdo:' 'You know I'm f**king moody and I know I'm quite unkind.' And he's at it again on 'Bad Mood:' 'Oh you look disappointed in me/Oh am I not as thoughtful as you'd thought I'd be?'
There are a couple of nice musical moments on the fillers. On 'All In Vain' and 'Aftershave Ocean', guitarist Freddie Cowan does some George Harrison style slide guitar licks. I know what you're thinking; you're thinking 'Aftershave Ocean' sounds like a song title by that s**t '90s band Space. Well, this track actually sounds like that s**t '90s band, Space.
Unfortunately, contrary to the suggestion of their album title, The Vaccines haven't come of age; they're in the middle of an identity crisis. What did you expect from The Vaccines?