Song titles – usually a good give-away for the milky goods contained within the album pinta. So far, so good. Liquid Lunch? Check. Hell yeah! Destitute Prostitute? Check. Why not! Band From World War Zero? Gimmee! Alas, if only the fiction contained inside were better than the curdled reality.
LA scenesters The Vacation tread a shaky line between sleaze worship and the path of glorious mirror-posing fools. World War Zero seems to be a clinically clean stab at filth, only lacking the dirt and originality to make it worthy of any serious attention. There are flashes of what could be a fantastic live band, but they are buried (especially the vocals) under a polite and polished production courtesy of Tony Hoffer (Beck, Air, Turin Brakes (!)) and a serious lack of ideas. That means no turning guitars up and pouting like a kipper will make up for forgetting to pack the memorable tunes, or the lyric dictionary.
Blasting, hollow, ballsy retreads from rocks’ grubby annals fill this debut, aiming for cocksure swagger, but coming off as half-cocked and flaccid. Kicking off with the panting two-chord wonder of White Noise that crawled from the same birthsac as any number of Jet/Datsuns tribute garage band-ism has an air of urgency that sadly soon wanes. Luckily, Destitute Prostitute delivers the goods again, with a glam-stomping holler and response dumb-ass booty call to heads-down-no-nonsense swaggering, which sits at odds with the rest of the album.
From here on in it degenerates into a band losing the maps to the tunes and getting into some murky muse with no menace or sleaze to hold the attention for long beyond the initial arousal. Trading on chunky, bass driven rock, with occasional guitar flurries from Steve Tegel to counter brother Ben Tegel’s undistinguished, and under-achieving, caterwauling vocals from any number of grubby wannabes.
They try too hard to come up with the goods and come over as cheesy illiterates as on the inane Cherry Cola. What’s In It For Me (W.I.I.F.M.?) is a shameless Rolling Stones rip-off. Fake-rock anthem Hollywood Forever is as lame as it sounds, boasting the empty line about “You and me in Hollywood forever” which sums up, perhaps in a neat post-ironic way (perhaps not), the sheer vacuity of the Hollywood myth which seems to have blighted this group. Liquid Lunch does little but repeat the title ad nauseam over a spiralling riff and frankly worrying cowbell.
It seems to hail from the same stable as when Americans try to ape either the rock blueprints (Stones, Sex Pistols, Guns N Roses, Iggy Pop etc) or anything European and unique. It’s done in such an anodyne and mannered way that strips the life straight out of the veins to produce a corporate rock sound devoid of blood, sweat or ideas.
So, The Vacation? Good idea on paper, maybe. Just a bit of a dull proposition without the sleaze or music to back up their polished attitood. To paraphrase Johnny Rotten, “they don’t mean it ma’am”.