When The Vaccines came on the scene in late 2010, they were met with fond approval from critics and reigned in third position in the career-paving BBC Sound of 2011 poll. Their single 'Post Break-Up Sex' was unavoidable and they had Best New Act awards coming out their ears. Literally. It was a cause of medical concern.
One year later, with a whirlwind of festivals and live shows trailing behind them,their second album, Come Of Age, does not exactly scream sound of 2012. It's screaming 1973, when being a rocker had no Slipknot associations. With the very styled image (slicked back hair, extremely tight jeans, leather) that they are going for, they'd fit in with the This Is England cast or be cast as the bad boys in UTV's Heartbeat.
Bands' influences can always be pinpointed but The Vaccines are spelling it out for us so blatantly on this record. Sometimes, familiarity is an asset and when track two, 'I Always Knew' reminds you of Elton John's 'Crocodile Rock', you're not reaching for Elton's greatest hits, you are embracing this tribute to bands of yonder years. This is a straight-up, inoffensive rock album. This isn't an insult - it's better to be inoffensively good rather than offensively awful.
Justin Young's voice is as strapping as ever and it flows and curls just beautifully on the gender-misled 'I Wish I Was A Girl' and the love-sore song 'I Always Knew'. He has clearly been drinking the same water that Alex Turner started supping around the time Arctic Monkeys started recording 2009's Humbug.
The already released singles, 'No Hope' and 'Teenage Icon', are jaunty and, from the compliments they received for their set at Electric Picnic earlier this month, very, very good when played live. 'Weirdo', with its plucky guitar, has Young declaring all of his worst faults and like most self-loathing songs, the listener will absolutely find some connection and empowerment in there. He may not be a weirdo, but, good Lord, he may be just a little loopy.
'Ghost Town' has the London group slagging off a boring and empty town. Sound familiar? Instead of taking the eerie sound that The Specials first coined in 1981 or addressing the signs of an economy in decline, 2012's 'Ghost Town' is simply a bit of a toe-tappin', finger-snappin' number with a wailing chorus. There is very little depth to the lyrics on Come Of Age, but that's alright because for whatever depth they lack, the make up for it with songs that will infect your membrane and make you forget what year it is.
Review by Louise Bruton