Is It a Banger?: The Vaccines’ progression highlights their versatility

In Arts & Entertainment, Lifestyle, Music
Members of The Vaccines pose with emotionless faces.
Courtesy of Brad Elterman

British rock band, The Vaccines are no strangers to creating a new attitude or different tune with each new album. In their latest release “Combat Sports,” the band branches out from its indie rock roots as the album mixes alternative rock with a sprinkle of dance-worthy tunes, showing that The Vaccines aren’t limiting themselves to one audience or a singular style.

Although tracks like “If You Wanna” and “Teenage Icon” were reminiscent of their previous work when they were released, all of their albums are noticeably different from one another, from the edgy and gloomy rock ‘n’ roll sound of “Come of Age,” to the band’s first experimental spin “Do You Want a Man? (John Hill + Rich Costey Remix).”

“Combat Sports” does not disappoint with several tracks that feel completely unique and others that are nostalgic of past albums like, “What Did You Expect from the Vaccines?” and “Come of Age.”

Particular songs off of “Combat Sports” stand out in moments when the album has the ability to make hearts explode out of immense despair and promote others to dance in front of the mirror with a hairbrush microphone.

Expecting another funk-fueled record, like 2015’s “English Graffiti,” it was a bit nerve-wracking to listen to the album’s first single, “I Can’t Quit”; once I did, the track immediately took me all the way back to 2011, as it felt like a more hype version of “Wolf Pack” echoing from lead singer, Justin Young’s voice.

“I Can’t Quit” heads straight for the punch as it’s clear and louder, higher pitched verses make listeners want to run the streets with a group of friends, kicking around trash and causing trouble in an otherwise empty alleyway.

“Combat Sports” has a handful of appealing tracks as single releases prior to the albums release. These tracks are exhilarating (with the exception of “Your Love Is My Favourite Band”) for fans who have been without new music from The Vaccines since 2015.

Previous albums featured tunes like “I Always Knew,” a single from “Come of Age” that brought together the fun of lovestruck teenage angst and romance. Its simplistic music video captured the innocence of love at first sight, waiting for a single touch or a snug head on the shoulder, ultimately bringing the yearning lyrics to life.

The catchy track “Minimal Affection” from the album “English Graffiti,” featured a futuristic, boogie-dancing ambience with a chorus drowned with deep-rooted “woos” and meticulous key delivery. The song brought out a new side to The Vaccines, as they transformed their style from mellow to rebellious, exploring an entirely new genre.

But the singles for “Combat Sports” were more, “Hey I know we were missing for a while, but look at what we got for you kids, some real rocking hits.” The tunes left a feeling of “Yeah, this is why I love The Vaccines,” bringing back their rock ‘n’ roll charm and making the release of “Combat Sports” even more thrilling.

Although not a single, “Young American” should have been one, as it is the most sentimental and memorable track on “Combat Sports.” I’ve listened to this song for hours at a time because of it’s soothing, irresistible vocals and overall beautiful production.

The track emulates the sound of love as every lyric pounds hearts with both passion and despair: “Pull me into orbit with your hand then show me where you wanted me to land … let me live forever in your palm.” Let’s just say if someone serenaded me with this song, I might be a little creeped out, but at the same time, my eyes would literally transform into pulsating cartoon hearts.

Every Vaccines album (especially “English Graffiti”) has a contagious simp-infested love song, such as “Post Break-up Sex” or “Want You So Bad,” but “Young American” surpasses them all as the guitar shoots through veins with effortlessly beautiful of continuous picking.

If the isolated tunes of “Somebody Else’s Child” resonated with any lonesome memories, then so will “Young American” –– a banger in the most depressing, sexual and nostalgic way. It’s ultimately the best track on the entire album.

Aside from the longing love song, “Nightclub” is the perfect transition from “Young American.” The listener goes from hearing a sappy love song to a total headbanger as the percussion hits, and the electrifying strumming from the guitar makes the listener feel like they are experiencing strobe lights, without the physical flickering.

“Take It Easy” is a light-hearted beat that Charlie Brown, Lucy and the rest of the Peanuts gang would use to dance around Schroeder’s piano if he played the jingle of this song. It’s that cheerful, despite lyrics that may say otherwise. Young sings about desiring someone, but not wanting the responsibilities of a relationship.

“Combat Sports” is just another peek into the ever-changing band. The Vaccines prove time and time again they are capable of depth. From their first album to their latest, The Vaccines successfully captivated an audience who crave both constant renewal of old tunes and the creation of new ones.

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