The Vaccines: Vintage melodies from modern influences

Perhaps no band in recent history has lived up to its hype quite like The Vaccines. Over the last two years, The Vaccines toured with Arcade Fire and Arctic Monkeys, and received widespread acclaim for their debut album “What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?” Now the quartet from London is ready for round two with another album of pop-infused rock ‘n’ roll.

Appropriately titled “Come of Age,” the record continues The Vaccines’ trademark brand of vintage rock with a decidedly more ’50s sound, along with verses that convey the confused melancholy of teenagers on the cusp of adulthood. The album opens with “No Hope,” which pairs a bright guitar melody with faintly desperate lyrics. This theme continues in songs like “All in Vain,” which sounds as if it could have been added to “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” without anyone knowing the difference.

The Vaccines are as adept with mid-tempo melodies as they are with upbeat ballads, as demonstrated by the album’s standout track “Weirdo,” which blends the introspective sound of The Beatles with the self-deprecation of The Strokes and Radiohead. “Lonely World” ends the album with dreamy chords and winding vocals that croon, “I would hold you close ’cause it is a lonely world.”

Though packed with clichéd lines and retro references, The Vaccines manage to build their vintage sound through modern influences. “I Always Knew” and “Teenage Icon” both embody a typical ’50s sound — the latter even features a deliberate reference to Frankie Avalon -— but also call to mind aspects of Arctic Monkeys and REM, which keeps things from getting stale.

While The Vaccines have made significant stylistic strides in “Come of Age,” the record still leaves much to be desired. Many of the songs resemble each other in structure, and almost all of the melodies have been pulled from pioneers such as Elvis, the Ramones and The Kinks.

The Vaccines have frequently been compared to Arctic Monkey, who recently incorporated a wider variety of rock sounds to their fourth studio album to avoid being overshadowed by vintage rock influences. Now The Vaccines have a solid second album under their belt and will hopefully take a cue from the great bands of the past and try something entirely new.

“Come of Age” demonstrates that the London band has certainly gotten the hang of infusing pop melodies with good, old-fashioned ’50s rock ‘n’ roll. Everyone knows The Vaccines is a good band, but the question remains: Will it ever be a great one?

A version of this article appeared in the Sept. 6 print edition. Alexandria Ethridge is a staff writer. Email her at music@nyunews.com. 

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