THE VACCINES – What Did You Expect From The Vaccines (Columbia)

At the start I heard way more about the Vaccines than any of their actual music, and as it is so often the case that the more the hype the less chance the band has to live up to it, I was not expecting to be as impressed by them as I turned out to be. As first I thought they were American, as there is more than a hint of The Strokes in their powerful guitar-driven rock, but it seems they come from London, proving that we can produce this sort of indie rock just as well as the Yanks. ‘Wreckin’ Bar (Ra Ra Ra)’ just about takes the top of your head off when it explodes from the speakers, then it rages for a couple of minutes and it is all over. But don’t think you can catch your breath, as ‘If You Wanna’ follows with barely a gap, and is another great three minute rocker. ‘A Lack Of Understanding’ slows the pace down a tad, but they can’t keep it up for long, and it gradually speeds up towards the end. All of the tracks are swamped in reverb and have the vocals mixed way back, giving them both a retro 60’s sound combined with a powerful 90’s grunge feel, all topped off with the ‘what the hell’ attitude of The Ramones. ‘Blow It Up’ is a perfect example of this, rattling along like a cross between the Shangri-Las and Nirvana. ‘Wetsuit’ goes more for the 60’s vibe, with echo-laden drums and tinkling percussion, something like Glasgevas did on their first album, who in turn pinched it pretty much wholesale from The Jesus And Mary Chain. ‘Norgaard’ could be seen as a slightly creepy paean to under-age sex, although as she is just seventeen (‘but probably not ready’) then strictly speaking it is legal. But at least the tune is a corker. ‘Post Break-Up Sex’ is tha song that first brought the band to the attention of the media, but surrounded by the rest of the songs on here it sounds strangely muted. ‘Under Your Thumb’ keeps up the frenetic pace, before ‘All In White’ finally lets us catch our breath. At the beginning of the track, with it’s brooding intro, the band sound strangely like The Editors, but once the whole band kick in then it is back to the full-blown indie-punk of the rest of the album. ‘Family Friend’ rounds off the disc with it’s only ballad, perfectly placed at the end to give you a chance to recover from the all-out onslaught of what has gone before. So, a band that actually lived up to the hype for once, and the answer to the question posed by the album title is certainly nothing as good as this turned out to be.

If You Wanna