The Vaccines - What Did You Expect From The Vaccines
The Vaccines were one of those bands built up and knocked down the media, specifically the New Musical Express, that self-satisfied, self-appointed guardian of indie street cred whose writers fail to understand that most of them have climbed so far up their own arses they can see the plaque on their teeth from the inside. What seemed unique about the Vaccines was that the knocking down began almost before their first album, What Did You Expect from the Vaccines was released. Part of it was based around gratuitous and unnecessary sniping at the wealthy background of bassist Fred Cowan, but then that is part of the fun isn't it - knocking down a toff.
The Vaccines belong to that class of British music which is forever looking backwards, such as the Jam and, more recently, the Bishops and the Rifles. In the case of the Vaccines, the retro seems to be drawn from a period just after punk died in the late seventies, a time when a thousand indie bands sprung up issuing cheap, poorly-produced reverb-heavy singles on their own labels. It was a great time for music. But I am not sure that I would want to revisit it now, especially when the poor production techniques available back then seem to have been reproduced deliberately for the Vaccines' debut.
But sadly for the Vaccines, I am not sure that their debut album never matched up to the hype they garnered. Having established a reputation on the London circuit for a tight snappy set of well-crafted up-tempo pop tunes, their debut album comes as something of a surprise. Okay, it gets off to the sort of start you might expect, with Wreckin' Bar (Ra Ra Ra), which is a short and snappy little number full of the energy which characterised their live gigs. But from that point on, things seem to go downhill with only the occasional lift provided by the odd song here and there. For instance, the dreadful Post Break-Up Sex has the plodding pace of a dirge while Wet Suit is, if anything even worse.
And for the first time you get to hear what the Vaccines have been saying. And as is so often the case, a band you had in mind as purveyors of some quality music only serve to disappoint you when you get to hear what they are saying. Much of lyrical content is incredibly childish and stupid. Nørgaard is a lick-smacking drool at the model Amanda Nørgaard which contains these neo-Shakesperian gems -
"Smaller tits and skinny framework/Tall, sharp hips and you're all in the same work./Giving me the sweet talk/Walking down the Catwalk/I want a mannequin/But she won't let me in."
And that's not even the worst of it. Try this -
"Her mind's made up, she don't wanna go steady/She's only seventeen so she's probably not ready"
Dear oh dear. And yet, that is probably the best tune on the album and the one which, if you can shut out the awful lyrics or are drunk enough not to care, is probably the best track on the album. And then, as if to add insult to injury, there is a hidden track at the end of the album and I really hate hidden tracks. I especially hate this one, a slow piano and voice only piece, which sounds like it was recorded in a cardboard box and comes straight from the Lick My Love Pump school of piano fugues.
So where does this leave the Vaccines? And more to the point, where does it leave me? Well, I am not lusting after seventeen year old stick insects for one. At times, it is almost enjoyable but if you listen too closely to it, it quickly starts to become unbearable. This is music for a party - a rowdy party full of drunken lads singing noisily and tunelessly along because the lyrics are slightly rude. I am too old for those parties now so this has a limited appeal. And I expected so much more from the Vaccines.
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