the band look younger every year...
the band look younger every year…

The Vaccines
‘Come Of Age’
album review

In which The Vaccines arrive at the so-called difficult second album and storm through it with ease. They have delivered an album that stretches their sound from the stomping, tune laden, ramalama, joyful, guitar rush of their debut and plays with space and different textures whilst remaining on the same sort of classic guitar sonic six string template.

The band’s work rate has been astonishing since they burst through two years ago with endless touring and now a second album recorded and about to be released.

It probably shocked them more than anyone the way they seemed to take off in two week rush where their debut single ‘Wreckin’ Ball (Ra Ra Ra)’ was picked up by national radio and become the breakaway single of the year. No mean feat in a time when guitar pop was being buried by naysayers and national radio programmers.

The Vaccines toured hard with 50 festivals in one glorious summer and have become one of the biggest bands in the UK without anyone noticing.

This is old-fashioned stuff. There is no tabloid tale, just great songs and hard touring and a very real connection with their fans who genuinely love the band’s music and not the pantomime shtick that is the usual tale.

Come Of Age sees the band still writing classic, timeless pop with have an emotional kick to the their very English take on American garage band fried rock n roll that they make their own.

Album opener, I Always Knew, is classic Vaccines- it has that roll of thunder of late fifties/early sixties classic pop, there a touch of Joe Meek about the neo-Telstar guitar line and that ache of classic teenage romance rock n roll in the simple yet effective chords and Justin’s plaintive, very English vocal- a vocal that defines all the songs on the album.

Teenage icon is skiffle pop rush, a very English romp with a frisky energy as it debunks the star machine with great, funny lines like ”ËœI’m not magnetic or mythical/ I’m suburban and typical’. The Vaccines are older and wiser and understand the emptiness of pop’s eternal dream.

All In Vain is acoustic driven Spector pop that hints at the Ramones classic Spector cover Baby I Love You if it was conceived in a rainy day English small town.

The song is the first big swerve from the band’s template- all lush melodies with an almost George Harrison guitar figure exiting it. We are dealing with a pure pop here before it got corrupted by the X factor cynics and the hipsters love of irony laden Hoxton fashionista muzak that sounds like the way it dresses. There is a timelessness about the Vaccines that is way beyond the perifirial piffle of fashion driven indie pop. These are songs that really go to the heart with their plaintive beauty.

Ghost Town is twanging thunder, yet again like a Joe Meek style late fifties workout. A real rush of Meekabilly with a flavour of early Horrors and that’s no bad thing especially with the family connection”¦

Aftershave Ocean is another swerve and potential big hit single. The song has the classic sixties lilt to it of that bouncy 66/67 pop when LSD was just clouding the edges of the bubblegum pop factory like with the Move with that Blackberry Way troublegum pop that was one part classic Tin pan Alley and one part tripped out, freak beat and comes armed with a great arms in the air chorus.

Weirdo is tripped as stripped down, personal and confessional as The Vaccines get. Entering on a Jesus And Mary Chain chug it has that early Roses feel as they were emerging from the Scooter boy mob gigs to the gentler more anthemic band that struck paydirt.

Bad Mood has the classic Cramps garage band five knuckle shuffle and is already a live favourite with its cranked riffola and big badass chorus.

Change Your Heart pt 2 has all the hallmarks of the Vaccines- Justin’s plaintive voice, the twin guitar interplay and the classing timeless riffs that come from the heart of rock n roll and are used to create timeless pop with a great soaring chorus.

I Wish I Was A Girl is a cheeky playing around with gender whilst Lonely World is a big swooning ballad with the full Spector Christmas single build up and that curious mix of fifties reverb drenched emotion and 21st century ipod generation rock n roll museum mentality of the current great songwriters.

It’s a great album. Proof that the guitar is still an indestructible tool and avatar for great pop music. There’s shades of those pop punk classics like the Ramones and the Undertones to the songs, that effortless rush of great guitars and chord sequences that suggest innocence and yearning with the adrenalin rush of great guitars that runs through the generations and never sounds dated.
The Vaccines are not here to break boundaries. They write classic guitar pop, adding a new sheen to the tried and tested template. They have an inventiveness that is allowed to shine more on this album with different arrangements whilst all the time I can still hear the Ramones which is a GOOD THING because da brudders were far more than just a t shirt but a template for the perfect rock n roll bands.

The vaccines have not only come of age but they have escaped the traps of sloth and celebrity and created a great second album.

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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


  1. […] sophomore albums by, in particular, The Vaccines (read our review here) & The XX got our man Andrew Bardsley ruminating on how how artists build up to that […]

  2. Been seriously thinking about buying this album. Think they’re about as close to The Ramones as any band has been in recent times – bands that have “made it” anyway.

    Really enjoyed their first album but seemed to bore of it very quickly. Think the first 2 singles off this album have been brilliant though. They both seem to have that small succession of notes that just give me *that* feeling that Babyshambles songs did. Can’t really explain it very well but just a little section of 3-5 notes that are out of this world.

    • Do it! I found an advance album stream through the band’s site, so I’ve actually been listening to Come of Age all week. httpss:// I think it sounds fantastic, and I agree with every word you said!


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