So, ideally I try my best to cover only the newest of albums, bar the very occasional retrospective when I do a Longplay article, but seeing as I want to chiefly cover sound city artists from now until May I’m going to be going back a few years into the archives so I can deliver on my promise to you, my few loyal readers.
The Vaccines are an odd but successful marriage of post-punk band with the swagger of 50’s rock n’ roll like if The Shadows or The Lively Ones had played guitar for The Ramones. But what should sound disjointed and incongruous actually gels into an album of supercharged rebellion. Rock n’ roll was the rebellion of the 50’s and according to Hollywood, the birth of the teenager – these two themes are linked intrinsically together in pop culture. So when Justin Young sings on the song Teenage Icon, “I’m no teenage icon, I’m no Frankie Avalon, I’m nobody’s hero,” it acts as embracing the trope of the rebel as much as it rejects it, and it embraces it with a knowing wink and a half smile. It’s a classic story of fake it till you make it, and by god does he make it.
Bad Mood is a stomper of an anthem dripping with the promise of menace and violence should the protagonist of the song have his cage rattled.
I Always Knew shares the same percussive drumming of the Roy Orbison Classic, I Drove All Night, giving the impression of a man riding a horse to the one he loves, or thundering down an American highway in a muscle car or Harley to reunite with his one true love. It’s a song about the revelation of being in love, and going from something casual to it being something big, unwieldy and all too abstract to handle, hence the line “let’s go to bed before you say something real, let’s go to bed before you say how you feel.” But the protagonist knows, he knows it bone deep that he’s irrecoverably in love, and that this girl’s the one for him, and as much as he fights it, he knows it. It’s unclear what wins out, but I like to think that because there’s more lines saying “I know it’s you” than his denial of his feelings that he just admits it. But hey, this hardboiled cynic reserves the right to be an occasional romantic.
Should you listen to The Vaccines? Yes.
Should I go to see them at Sound City? Yes, with bells on.
Monthly music columnist for the Kirkby Extra, sometimes article writer for Get Into This. Freelance writer/artist/maker.