The Vaccines have barely existed a year. Already at the heart of a backlash from the likes of The Quietus following their (admittedly suspiciously fast) rise to the forefront of the UK rock scene that – in some corners – already proclaims the band as it’s saviours, there’s undoubtedly a whole lot of buzz surrounding a London four-piece. They’re, perhaps, most initially striking for their ability to produce incredibly catchy tracks only fractionally too long to feature as advertising jingles.
Sure, the Vaccines probably won’t end up being the saviors of anything much at all, but dismiss them at your peril. Beyond the insanely infectious rambling of their first track of note, ‘Wreckin’ Ball (Ra Ra Ra)’, the band’s greatest strength is perhaps in recognizing their own simplicity. Their unfussy pop hooks are plain and colourful, the kind of stuff that – produced into fully formed two- or three-minute radio-friendly gems – might appear self-indulgent and, frankly, dull.
Reduce this simplistic, jangly form of song writing to starkly produced tracks that oftoen hover around the two minute mark, though, and they become insanely infectious. ‘Wetsuit’s lyrically inane hippy refrain slurs through four minutes of otherwise perfect summer pop; throwaway, but as oddly beguiling as you’re likely to find from straight-up, raw guitar pop. ‘Norgaard’ is another one of those manic and oddly sweet sub-two-minute ditties that touches on relationships missed in an almost comically upbeat style, while ‘A Lack Of Understanding’ offers up a rare, throbbing tale of colloquial regret. Soaring, slurring and witty, front man Justin Young’s vocals and the jagged guitar that surrounds them form the almost singular core of an album’s that’s return-to-basics starkness is intriguingly ‘new’ of late in itself.
It’s not big – and it’s certainly not refined – but The Vaccines (barely) 30-minute debut – as a stark summer rock-out album – is certainly wittily clever. Whether you’ll like it or loathe it probably all comes down to the same ponderous question that forms the album’s title: What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? If you expected them to change your world with vast, sweeping melodies and grandiose song structures, you’ll be sorely disappointed. If you’re after a raucous, raw piece of simple yet contagious garage rock with Pete Doherty’s guttural, sullied influences peaking transparently over the parapet, however, this might be distinctive and shrewdly simplistic enough to define your entire summer.