THE VACCINES - COMBAT SPORTS
By Freyja Chipman
The Vaccines’ fourth album ‘Combat Sports’ has arrived and hit us hard in the ear drums. Loud, romantically pessimistic and horny, this album sounds like classic Vaccines.
With tracks ranging from punky and grungy head-bangers to insanely catchy indie-rock anthems, ‘Combat Sports’ seems to have returned the band to their roots. Echoing their 2011 debut ‘What Did You Expect From The Vaccines’, this album isn’t so much a step in a different direction, but instead an affirmation of their early sound and their prowess as song writers.
The album’s first track Put It On a T-Shirt reintroduces us to singer Justin Young’s signature drawl, for me a throwback to the voices of proper English rock like Joe Strummer or Paul Weller. This first track and I Can’t Quit both share The Vaccines standard formula of up-beat melody and largely defeatist lyrics.
Your Love Is My Favourite Bandand Maybe (Luck Of The Draw) are more unexpected. With a heavy use of an electronic synth keyboard underscore, the tracks could almost have been plucked from the 80s Top 40. Thankfully a helping of Young’s cynicism-laden vocal and some tasty riffs from guitarist Freddie Cowan, save the tracks from just becoming bouncy pop-rock.
Elsewhere Out On the Street harks back to much more of a Strokes-esque brand of rock, while Surfing In The Sky is short and delightfully punk-rock. Thrashed out in under three minutes, it’ll make you want to pogo and grow your hair both at the same.
Young American’s lyrics return to that typically sex-fuelled place of Post Break-up Sex with lines like ‘suffocate me in between your thighs’ (oo-er) but at just 2 minutes long the track is as much a teaser for Nightclub, a hedonistic anti-love song, than an outright track in itself. Loud. All in. Faultless rock. This is where the Vaccines are at their best.
While ‘Combat Sports’ isn’t anything new (or unexpected) it has definitely exceeded expectation. The Vaccines’ maddening and always catchy hooks are still running around my head, and I’m here once again. They’ve caught me, I’m in. And I like it.