Review: The Vaccines – English Graffiti

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60%
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Briefly Exciting

Fans of The Vaccines will love hearing more of what they're best out. For everyone else, English Graffiti lacks originality and identity and will be forgotten rather quickly.

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The great English summer is here and along with it comes English Graffiti. The third studio album from West London rockers The Vaccines, frontman Justin Young said that it will “sound amazing in one year and then terrible in ten years”. While this latest release by no means sounds bad, whether it will even be remembered by most in a year is another matter entirely. English Graffiti does exactly what it should do, delivering frenetic, cheap thrills and that come thick and fast. Cheap thrills are not long lasting however and English Graffiti, like its predecessors, looks set to become another briefly exciting yet somewhat generic and quickly forgotten release; probably in a much shorter timeframe than Young hopes for.

The Vaccines have clearly tried to reinvent their sound with their latest release, though it’s not exactly clear in which direction they are trying to take it. English Graffiti takes elements from both the band’s 2011 rock n’ roll debut and their slightly grittier 2012 follow up and mixes it all with some obvious influences from new producer Dave Fridmann. Fridmann has previously worked alongside the likes of Tame Impala and MGMT, whose psychedelic sounds The Vaccines have clearly attempted to channel. This cathartic mixture of indie rock, pop and psychedelia doesn’t always go down smoothly and the album often seems to struggle to find its own identity.

Particularly noteworthy examples of English Graffiti’s identity crisis are to be found in the tracks ‘Handsome’ and ‘Radio Bikini’. Both fall short of the mark when attempting to force a blend of different genres, resulting in a final product consisting of fuzzy vocals and even fuzzier guitars, which simply isn’t very pleasant to listen to outside of a mosh pit.

There is some redemption to be found in tracks like ‘Minimal Affection’, a synth heavy and catchy number that successfully manages to take things in a different direction without becoming too confused in the process. Also of note is preceding track ‘Dream-Lover’, one of the few tracks in which the band have managed to pull off their new psychedelic style successfully.

It is not to say that the messy nature of English Graffiti and its general lack of direction make it a bad album. It’s just not a particularly interesting one. The record is full of fast-paced, energetic, cheap thrills that are sure to impress at any live show. However, these cheap thrills all sound rather similar. The album contains very few standout moments and other than one or two gems worthy of note, most of this latest release is simply pure filler. The whole affair makes for an entertaining listen but has no real staying power and little replay value. Put bluntly, it’s all just a tad too forgettable.

English Graffiti is was released Tuesday 26th May via Sony.

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