The Vaccines: Back In Love City - ALBUM REVIEW
After their typical three year break, London's Indie Rock anthem makers The Vaccines have returned with an antidote to post-summer boredom, their new album 'Back In Love City'.
The initial singles gave us a good clue of what to expect from their 5th studio album...the typical sunshine sound designed for festival mosh pits, an album full of punchy sing a long tracks littered with layers of clever production and injected with a more electrifying flavour than most comparable artists. This is exactly what the album delivered when it arrived on September 10th, although with an impressive level of consistency throughout.
Consistency is perhaps the most impressive quality of The Vaccines throughout their career with each album managing to offer numerous memorable track filled with pure Indie ecstasy and often infused with a warm love for the American sound that is self-confessed in the new song 'Heart Land'. From the teenage dramas evoked in their earliest hits 'Norgaard', 'Wetsuit' and 'If You Wanna' to the rousing riff driven bangers like 'I Can't Quit' that have arrived more recently, they have always guaranteed an insanely catchy Indie Rock offering. Yet this isn't a case of simply churning out neat riffs and tried and tested song structure. Even though the new album will feel familiar to any fan of the band, the songs are anything but mere lazy repeats.
Their witty, lyricism is present just as much as ever, with lines such as "I try to drown my sorrows but they always learn to swim...when I exercise my demons I just take them to the gym" providing more depth than you would often get from such commercial Indie anthems. This has always been one of the joys of The Vaccines' music as they always manage to plant some quirky, and at times damn right strange, observations and analogies into their most pop orientated tracks in a similar tongue in cheek fashion as The Wombats. 'Jump Off The Top' is like a shopping centre free sample of The Vaccines' discography, with their trademark backing 'oohs' giving that sunny glaze that ran throughout their debut album and many tracks since. 'Headphones Baby' also treads on familiar ground, carrying on their love for music/love based metaphors that crept up on in 'Your Love Is My Favourite Band' and 'Nightclub' from their previous record.
However, this track also brings in something a little out of the ordinary for the band as they dive off the their American college Indie dive board into a sea of Gerry Cinnamon esc rolling acoustics, only increasing the festival feel of the album. Other pleasant surprises lay in the intensity of the previously unreleased numbers. The dark tempting tones of 'Wanderlust' and the unrelenting energy of 'XCT' and 'Peoples' Republic of Desire' see them produce what are perhaps their most angst driven songs that they have ever produced and offer the gritty highlights of the new record. Their aggressive Rock digressions are nothing new, yet after the teaser of the Electro Pop title track, it is somewhat surprising to hear them so often. 'Back In Love City' in contrast is probably the most commercial chorus that has come out of The Vaccines' repertoire alongside the new poolside Ibiza vibes of 'El Paso'. The repetition of the rousing line "We can't find love cos' we spent it all on you" is met with a thumping Dance esc drum beat whilst the other chorus line of "Save it up now we're back in love it city" is delivered as a clean and crisp Pop ensemble designed for one purpose... to be chanted back by thousands of fans enduing in the return of live tours. The track is a soaring spiral of euphoria and sees The Vaccines doing what they do best, as do many of the aforementioned tracks.
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The only slight negative to note is one that has often been the case with the band. Despite their knack for high-octane Indie stompers, they have sometimes struggled with the more sensitive side of the emotive spectrum. The slower, more introspective moments such as 'Pink Water Pistols' still showcase an impressive writing talent with the line "I've been working on my mind's interior design", however the instrumentals don't seem to match the lyrical intimacy.
However, on the whole this record is full of flavour. It provides the intensity of a teenage debut album with the maturity in production and songwriting of a cohesive group of musicians who know exactly where their strengths lie and although the more sentimental cuts don't provide the emotive depth that many may like, they still offer a good texture to a really complete and varied run of tracks. 'Back In Love City' is an impressively vibrant record and is probably their most invigorating and accomplished album to since their debut.