Everyone loves a bit of nostalgic British pop-rock these days, precisely the reason why The Vaccines have done so well since their debut release back in 2011. Well, now they’re on their 3rd studio release entitled English Graffiti, and with it they bring us diligent piece of work, topped off with a smattering of 80s loveliness.
Opening track Handsome finds us in familiar Vaccines territory; a punk offering of Ramones tones coated in a pop veneer. Lead singer Justin Young’s distinctive vocals push the song forwards and leave you exhilarated in its short running time, as all the great punk tracks do. Contrast this to Minimal Affection, and then we’re in smooth town; sultry and seductive melodies mixed with a latter day Strokes style chorus of tuned up guitary synths set amongst pop tones.
But like any band respectable band should do, they don’t just keep with the tried and tested, but try new things by venturing into the flavour of the day style of harking back to the 80s for inspiration. But don’t worry; although many bands appear to be doing this these days, and through fear of thinking that The Vaccines are just jumping on the bandwagon, I’m here to put your mind at rest, as they do pull this sound off rather well. Of course they’ve always has slight 80s tinges in the music before, but they really embrace it here; Dream Lover’s Arctic Monkeys’ edge and Jesus and Mary Chain attitude is really brought out when placed against Duran Duran style guitars and vocals, whereas Denial uses a gentle build up to show off the lighter side of Justin’s vocals, before enthralling the listener in the best chorus on the record that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on the radio 30 years ago.
With so many different layers to the record, you’d think it would get a little lost, but it manages to stay on track and even throw in something completely different with Want You So Bad. The band show off their skills with the delightful but creepy here; Justin opens up to his obsessions in a way where the lyrics and style of music perfectly compliment each other, which cleverly brings the story running through the track together. Add to this the hidden gem of the menacing Give Me A Sign, which could have easily been a product of any decent 90s indie band, and you’ve really got something special here.
English Graffiti might not have the instant poppy classics of earlier work, but what it’s replaced it with is so much more. Its greater depth, subtleties and craftsmanship, show maturity to the band that we haven’t seen before. The Vaccines are proving here that they’re going to be around for the long haul, and fully deserve to be.