The Vaccines | What Did You Expect from The Vaccines (Columbia)

cd vaccinesThe Vaccines boil down the music to what’s essential, without the fat.


The Vaccines’ debut album, What Did You Expect from The Vaccines, does one thing if it doesn’t do anything else: It reminds the listener that English guitar music is alive and well—not that it ever went away. Thankfully, the album also reminds you what great (indie) rock can be like: a great blend of ’60s power-pop with the buzz-saw punk of the Ramones and a little JAMC thrown in for some texture. Regardless of what you’ve heard or read about The Vaccines, the album is fantastic for several reasons. The Vaccines boil down the music to what’s essential, without the fat: great sing-along choruses (almost anthem like), concise songs, rhythm that makes you dance (or at least want to), and lyrics about relationships and growing old. Isn’t that what all great albums have?

What Did You Expect… kicks off with1:22 of pure guitar rock bliss in “Wrecking Bar (RaRaRa).” Everything about this song is right; hell, they even throw in a quick, dirty-sounding solo. The best part is they do not let up from there. “Wetsuit” is my favorite track on the album, a song about growing older and not really wanting to stop being young at heart—we just have to go about it differently. The song contains the great line, “We all got old at breakneck speed.” Amen to that, man. Songs like “If You Wanna,” “Family Friend,” and “Blow It Up” work so well because of singer Justin Young. He may not have the prettiest voice, but he knows how to use it to the best of his ability, and he sounds sincere.

The Vaccines have garnered a lot of hype in the English music press, not too dissimilar to what the Arctic Monkeys went through. With that, there is a certain amount of backlash that always arises. I’m not a psychologist, but I’d wager most of the people who turn on a heavily hyped album are just afraid to admit that the album is really worth the hype and that they got sucked into it. It’s OK, people: Good music is good music. Any album in the last 10 years that’s garnered that kind of hype in mags like NME and Q have all deserved said hype, in my opinion. And What Did You Expect from The Vaccines is certainly no exception. I look forward to seeing what they do after this. A- | Mike Koehler

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