Review of What Did You Expect From... Album by The Vaccines

Oh, how some people will love to hate The Vaccines. Lead singer dumps previous format in favour of Zane Lowe-friendly indie scenesterisms? Check. Blogosphere hype machine in full effect over demo before you can say the words tablet PC? Check. Sold out gig with crowd full of Shoreditch cognoscenti (Oh, and Nick Hodgson stuck in the queue outside) before unseemly major signature scrum ensued? Check, check, and verily, treble check.

The Vaccines What Did You Expect From... Album

The bad news for all the poison keyboards and general chin-stroking haters of success is that despite feeling as manufactured as a box of Lego, The Vaccines are in fact good. Hell, they're really bloody good, and What Did You Expect From... delivers to its carefully chosen demographic in spades, underlining a potential which even the über cynical would be forced to admit points to the kind of success the band themselves seem fairly ambivalent about. Or at least that's what they say in public.

Perhaps the diffidence of lead singer Justin Young is an attempt to deflect references to his former stint as winsome folky Jay Jay Pistolet - or that Vaccines guitarist Freddie Cowen is the younger brother of The Horror's Tom - but privately he's surely pleased at the progress the London four piece have made, especially since their demo If You Wanna inspired lapfuls of Caramel Lattes in the Autumn of last year.

Like most of its counterparts here, it's a song short on true inspiration but doused in detatched cool: comparisons to The Strokes are inevitable, if only for Young & co.'s similarly uncanny knack of making the sum exceed the traditional parts. Sure, it's an unsubtle trick, but one repeated to spectacular effect on the eighty four second opener Wreckin Bar (Ra Ra Ra), a homage to obvious influences The Ramones which breathes new life into the punk demagogue's roots in sixties bubblegum pop and garage.

Maybe it's just a reaction to the waves of outfits that have spent the last three years resurrecting the synth miserables of the early eighties, but coming on so one dimensional has rarely sounded so thrilling. Post Break Up Sex might sound mildly reflective in tone, but continues to leer more than a little at you off the back of an archetypal college rock guitar throb. The apex however is Norgaard, a paean to an elfin Scandinavian catwalk model that succeeds in bottling teenage libido, and then blasting the whole lot against a blank musical wall like a spotty, socially inept Jackson Pollock armed with a Rickenbacker.

It's a little early to judge whether The Vaccines are in fact, as has been claimed by lesser authorities, a band who will be "Game changing". By however establishing an aesthetic not unlike the first Jesus & Mary Chain album without the feedback, What Did You Expect hard to convince us that they may be the catalyst which finally leads us back down the road to rock and roll as a vital force in British music. Banjo manufacturers of this sceptred isle, you have been warned.

Andy Peterson

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