It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly why The Vaccines areunder such a weight of severe, loose-tongued criticism. Perhaps it’sthe gradually-increasing cynicism towards ‘Sound of [insert year]‘polls, the fairly routine process of appearing on Later… with Jools Holland andautomatically being labelled as a certainty for success. Critics -certainly not the general public – have dismissed the band’s debutalbum prior to a single listen. And despite the occasional duff lyricand monotonous set of chords, it’s not as ghastly as some makeout.
This London four-piece have, without intention, walked into thetrap of being this year’s musical punch bag. Whilst it’s obvious thatthey’re little more than four guys who happened to attract theattention of major labels and radio executives, in little time they’vebecome the band it’s cool to hate. There’s an evident intolerance of”bland”, unimaginative rock music – the kind that Kings OfLeon or White Lies are accused of harbouring. This debut issomewhere in between the hysteria and atmosphere of Glasvegasand the indifferent moodiness of White Lies. That’s not a good thing -certainly not if you’re a music snob. Nevertheless, there are momentswithin this patchy, multi-flawed effort that give a betterimpression.
Opener Wreckin Bar is crass, raucous – nothing but two minutes ofrelentless fun. Norgaard and Wolf Pack are notably similar to thecasual immediacy of Best Coast (last year’s punch bag, it ought to benoted). Some songs – were they to be shrouded with the kind of fuzzand reverb that many American acts identity with – would be hailed bythe same people who are currently shooting the verbal bullets.
This is the first guitar-based record in a very long time that’sgot huge commercial viability and a slight bit of integrity. TheVaccines are a band beloved by both the masses and the night-time DJs- and that’s rare. Post Break-Up Sex and Blow It Up are bothpotential festival anthems. Family Friend, despite its dreadfullyrical content (“Does everybody really feel as high as kite? Well Idon’t really know if they do, but they might”), is the kind ofswansong you associate with waving flags and a July sunset. Contraryto dismissive rhetoric, it’s easy to see the current haters becomingonly more frustrated.
One thing’s for sure though: The Vaccines, if they do represent acommercial revival of guitar music, aren’t the kind of groundbreakingband we’ll be looking back on in 10 years’ time. If indeed songs likeIf You Wanna pierce through the thick mould of daytime radioplaylists, allowing for greater, more intelligent guitar-based acts tosurge forward, we should be thankful. But much of, if not all ofWhat Did You Expect From The Vaccines? suffers from a complete lackof intelligence, candidness or originality: elements that help makeguitar-based music interesting. That stark fact goes out the windowthough if this thing sells by the bucketload.