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The Vaccines were formed in West London in 2010, and have since released two studio albums, toured extensively and opened for acts like Red Hot Chilli Peppers, The Stone Roses, Arctic Monkeys and Muse, to name a few. They’ve just released their third LP English Graffiti, following their 2011 release What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? and its 2012 follow-up Come of Age. English Graffiti is certainly not my favourite album of theirs, but it’s a refreshing sound nonetheless and one that delivers the reinvention that was earlier promised with Come of Age.
The Vaccines teamed up with producers Dave Fridmann (Flaming Lips, Tame Impala, MGMT) and Cole MGN (Ariel Pink, Beck, Nite Jewel) for English Graffiti, an album that the band says they want to sound “amazing next year and then terrible in ten years.” Even when this album sounds like something by The Vaccines, it’s still different to anything you’ve heard before; it’s more kitschy, more colourful and certainly more exaggerated.
The album opens with “Handsome”, a track that very much sounds like the standard upbeat indie song by The Vaccines. The music video features the band being taught martial arts by an alien, which really kicks off the whole sci-fi vibe of the album. “Dream Lover” is next up and is definitely one to check out—the music video gets a little bit deeper into the sci-fi thing too, just in case you weren’t entirely convinced that it was a theme. This song is one that sees them furthest from their work on past albums, though I have to admit, I’m not particularly sold on it.
“Minimal Affection” picks up a more electro pop sound. It’s followed by “20/20,” which is the first sense of urgency on the record, and a definite highlight. “(All Afternoon) In Love” is a floaty ballad and is easily the most somber point of the LP. “Radio Bikini” is also worth a mention. It’s a neo-punk grind about the post-WWII bombing of Bikini Atoll and one of the more infectious tracks on the record—it almost feels like a tamer version of The Dead Kennedys’ “Holiday in Cambodia.” “Maybe I Could Hold You” is probably one of the better tracks on the the album; it channels Arctic Monkeys’ AM in a similar way to “Dream Lover” but perhaps pulls it off slightly better.
All in all, English Graffiti is hard to fault. It’s a good record; it might lose some old fans, but it will certainly win some new ones too.