Teen girls always have a soft spot for boy bands. Yes we know, the Vamps would rather prefer not to be called one. But what else are we supposed to call four good looking, adolescent blokes who happen to sing and play instruments? A band? Oh, alright then. There’s no denying that The Vamps have been riding high on a very successful year. It was thanks to YouTube that they rose to prominence, and now the boys have a top album in the UK and a phenomenal online following. But with success comes a lot of hard work, so it’s no surprise that they’ve released a Meet the Vamps: Christmas Edition – an extension EP of eight Christmas jingles. With more than a month till the event you could say that they’re just a bit excited – then again, any excuse to get festive, right?
The EP kicks off with Jingle Bell Rock, a pop rendition of the classic Christmas spin. Lead singer Brad Simpson is hella cute and ups the charm; basically, every teenage girl’s fantasy of what a lead singer ought to be. Simpson certainly lives up to the expectation with his boyish tones and sweet falsetto. With some funky guitar embellishments The Vamps try to incorporate a rock edge into the track, but the whole thing is so mild that it fails to even really take off. The original Christmas track Sleighing In the Snow doesn’t do much better, unfortunately. It’s a mid-tempo number imitating an acoustic vibe, flanked by jingling bells in the background. The lyrical concept isn’t that original either, but when Simpson lures us in with the idea of frolicking in the snow with him, our hearts do an involuntary flutter anyway. It’s clear that Simpson’s vocals are the main jewel to this track – attracting the fans like honey to the bee.
Here’s another original one, Hoping For Snow, a pleading and nostalgic number for an estranged lover. Over country tunes and slight banjos, Simpson croons, ‘last year you took a piece of my heart, this year I guess it’s falling apart.’ Sound familiar? Very much resembling an ode to Wham!’s Last Christmas. The instrumental is also a little bare – the track is heavily reliant on percussion and backing ‘woahs’ to beef it up. Then there’s the awful Christmas classics that we wish they wouldn’t, but they cover anyway. We Wish You A Merry Christmas is so cheery that it’s cheesy, and the two minute track consists of the repetition of the main theme, over and over in different tempos. Eventually they do take the piss, because the chorus transforms into a hyperactive rock piece with slashing guitars and shouting vocals. And just when you think Jingle Bells will offer a bit of mercy – y’know, with it’s quiet, choir-boy start – the track breaks into another awfully loud and cheery rendition. The country-inspired arrangement doesn’t do much to ease the pain – it’s really just a mess of excessively earnest banjos and crashing drums.
It’s not that the EP is a total disaster – really, it isn’t. We’re treated to an appropriately sombre Hallelujah, though it’s not as haunting as it ought to be. Perhaps they would’ve fared better with a traditional piano rendition, but the acoustic guitars do a fine job anyway. Simpson is good here – he’s earnest, emotive and sounds considerably more mature compared to the boppy teen numbers. But the surprisingly beautiful Silent Night takes the cake. The vocals and piano rise and dip in volume, and mercifully, the other instruments have toned it down. Of course there’s still a bit of a rock star feel to it, with Simpson alternating between a full belt and a broken falsetto. It seems that The Vamps really have saved the best till last – after all, Christmas songs work a lot better when they don’t resemble a rowdy night at the pub.
If you’re a fan of The Vamps, go ahead and listen to the album so you can get your squeal on. Otherwise, Meet the Vamps: Christmas Edition is basically your average Christmas album from a hyped up artist – save the cheery banjos, that is.