West London’s The Vaccines are one of the hardest new bands to peg at times. On first listen, they’ve totally got one of those late ‘50s, early ‘60s pop revivalist things going, except with a little more reverb and maybe a pinch more aggression. But if you listen a bit more closely, the lines begin to blur. They’re clearly on their way to becoming (or maybe they’ve already become) something far more interesting than just another pop band.
Formed in 2010, the band consists of four members: guitarist/vocalist Justin Young, bassist Arni Hjorvar, guitarist Freddie Cowan (younger brother of Tom Cowan from The Horrrors) and drummer Peter Robertson. The fresh-faced quarter uploaded a demo of the single “If You Wanna” to YouTube in August 2010, and the track immediately exploded. One UK tour, a Jools Holland performance and several starry-eyed reviews later, the band released their debut album What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? to widespread praise and criticism in March 2011.
Even when the The Vaccines’s music was littler more than whisper rumbling through the blogosphere, they had an ability passionately divide the British press. Some loved them (NME called them “The Return of the Great British Guitar Band”), while others hated their guts, as most critics inevitably will when any baby band fresh off the blogosphere seems over-hyped (it’s a habit the industry is making no effort to break).
A star-stuck mix between 50s classic rock n’ roll, 1980s American hardcore, post-punk and so much more owing equally to The Ramones, Jesus and Mary Chain and The Strokes, What Did You Expect From the Vaccines? entered the UK Album Chart at #4 and went on to become the bestselling debut of 2011 in their native land. The band released six singles from the album.
The Vaccines music has all the makings of great pop music; simple, catchy, easy to clap along with, but there’s a little something more that’s enough to send a shrill shiver down your spine. The album is heavy laden with reverb and echo, a cavernous mine of punk rock crescendos with the sparkling diamonds of synth pop strewn about the cave walls. Justin Young’s baritone bark bites from the beyond while the drums pound guitars chime. It’s 21st century guitar pop for the kids who like to stay out late and wake up to a few bad decisions.
The Vaccines will be appearing at Coachella on Saturday April 14 and Saturday April 21. For more information visit www.thevaccines.co.uk.