Admittedly, The Vaccines’ songs aren’t really about very much, and when they are, the subject matter is a bit gauche (all that stuff on ‘Norgaard’ about fancying a girl who’s 17 and “probably not ready” – it’s mildly creepy). Nuance is not really their thing. Their songs all use the same three chords. But, to resurrect an old punk cliché, they’re the right chords.
Sure, the band’s buzzing guitars, thick reverb, and bouncy rhythms lack any particular spark of originality that might help listeners avoid compulsively thinking of names like Ramones, the Jesus and Mary Chain, or, yes, the Strokes. Then again, there’s no shame in catchy, concise, sharply executed tunes that communicate mildly fresh takes on relationships, either– and this album has more than a few.
The Guardian: 3/5 http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2011/mar/10/the-vaccines-album-review
In the era their music recalls, the Vaccines’ ambitions would have extended no further than a few Peel sessions and a few singles on Subway or Creation. But in the post-Britpop world, that’s no longer the way: the overriding impression left by What Did You Expect from the Vaccines? is of a first effort by a fairly good indie band boosted far out of their league by an overexcited music press. That, rather than their supposedly privileged background, is what might ultimately do for the Vaccines, something their album title and downbeat interviews suggest they’re aware of: an old-fashioned band, wrestling with a modern problem.
The Vaccines seem so in touch with their past and their heritage but so aware of the modern problem they face, trying to stand out in a room full of musicians with the exact same haircuts and exact same sound. And they seem to have found the answer to the conundrum, that being to do what everyone else is doing, except to do it better than everyone else. Simple really.
The music has a simple formula, and the execution is pretty straightforward, but don’t be mistaken: The Vaccines aren’t working in the spirit of the old punk bands that used to empower those around them by creating music that seemingly anyone could make. This London quartet’s less-is-more approach wouldn’t sound nearly as impressive in lesser hands. It’s the product of surprisingly thoughtful songwriting, a refined sense of knowing that sometimes the finest pop songs don’t need all of their allotted three minutes, and a frontman with an engaging, versatile voice that works well whether he’s feeling moody, vulnerable, or aggressive.
The Vaccines are effectively this season’s Arctic Monkeys, the latest fast-rising inheritors of a brash post-punk guitar pop tradition that stretches back ultimately to The Undertones.
Most key, however, is the fact that they’re able to write songs that are anthemic in scope yet punkish in packaging and catchy enough to warrant praise entirely on their own creative merits – “All In White” is downright stirring. It may well be that they’re just the next British guitar band of the moment, but it’s The Vaccines’ moment and they’re making the most of it.
If we’re to answer the album’s title, it’s with a simple retort: This and that. Because of this, What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? ends up being an enjoyable debut. Whether the band is being serious (“Family Friend”, “A Lack of Understanding”) or attempting pop (“If You Wanna”, “Norgaard”), they make it work. As it is, The Vaccines are a welcome break from the dance pop and electronic garbage dominating the airwaves currently. And while they won’t snuggle with your more radio-friendly tunes, their music offers an enviable alternative, instead. The Vaccines are clenching onto rock and roll, and this album is an amicable chapter in the genre. Amicable.
While the British buzz band undoubtedly wears its influences on its sleeve, it’s the kind of overt practice here that makes you celebrate the bands they draw inspiration from rather than cringe at the recreation of older sounds. That’s the overarching theme of their debut album What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?—a collection of songs emerging as slightly kitschy, largely catchy and entirely enjoyable… If you’re expecting anything groundbreaking from The Vaccines, you’ll be disappointed. But if you can get past the unoriginality, this record is a no-brainer to enjoy.
It’s a little early to judge whether The Vaccines are in fact, as has been claimed by lesser authorities, a band who will be “Game changing”. By however establishing an aesthetic not unlike the first Jesus & Mary Chain album without the feedback, What Did You Expect From..works hard to convince us that they may be the catalyst which finally leads us back down the road to rock and roll as a vital force in British music.
Pretty Much Amazing: B http://prettymuchamazing.com/reviews/albumreviews/thevaccines
You expected a record of eleven songs to just edge over half an hour maybe. You didn’t quite get off so easy. You got a record about losing your friends and your lovers and growing up and becoming boring and cruel without meaning to. It just so happens some of these songs have the kind of propulsive drive that might as well hold you at gunpoint to start dancing.