Thursday 14 November 2019

The vaccines are all over it like a rash

My relationship with music has always been a bit of a love affair. It rises and falls on ebb and flow tides. Sometimes it fills my heart with joy and at other times it can feel like a dry old stick that I'm not sure why I'm still carrying around.

There have been times when things have turned stale, the passion has gone and we have even split up completely at a couple of points along the way. But like the most infuriating of couples, we always get back together again.

Can't live with it, can't live without it.

Having recently gone through one of our more serious break-ups, we've gotten back together in the most unlikely of ways.

We didn't reconnect, as one might expect, through a worthy new release like, say, Radiohead's The King of Limbs or Elbow's latest opus.

Nor was it through a rediscovery of some obscure 1960s psych band or my newfound love for classical music. Rather it was through a -- gasp! -- hipster band.

I had been hearing about the Vaccines for some time when a friend invited me to their gig and, fastidious relationship bore that I am, always willing to make the effort, I went out and bought the album, their debut, What Else Did You Expect From The Vaccines?'.

I put it on, heard a mixture of Lemonheads, Interpol, Girls and The Drums feeding back through the speakers and the louder I pushed it the better it sounded. I haven't stopped playing it since.

It's not often a band comes along with a perfectly formed debut like this. This album does not overstay its welcome either. It comes in, gets the job done and leaves after a gracious 30 minutes. It's a kind of understated audacity that leaves you wanting more.

The last time I remember a new band matching their own hype was The Strokes -- the melodies, the guitar hooks, the simplicity that lets you understand the album immediately but holds back some secrets in the echo chambers of noise that bear repeated listening extraordinarily well.

I haven't been moved by a hipster band since I was young enough to be in one but somehow this group of 20-somethings with their clanging Telecasters, inadvisable levels of reverb and rhyming couplets about post-break-up sex and swelling existential angst put a match to the tinder and suddenly music and I were on again.

It's funny too that that they should be called the Vaccines being as they are an antidote to mediocre four-piece male guitar outfits, an inoculation against musical apathy.

Their shimmery pop sound just happens to provide the perfect soundtrack for a summer of possibilities.

That might seem a little over the top but I've been in and out of love with music long enough to know it's rare enough to feel such a surge of delight from a new band.

Since hearing The Vaccines, I've signed up for the summer's best gigs and the autumn's best festivals and after years of on-again, off-again to-and-fro, that kind of rekindling can't be a bad thing. It's certainly restored my faith in music.

The Vaccines' debut album What Else Did You Expect From The Vaccines is out now.

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