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Review: The Vaccines – Come of Age

BY LAUREN FLANNERY

After such success with their debut album, What Did You Expect from The Vaccines?, The Vaccines had to be handling some serious pressure to avoid the dreaded ‘sophomore slump.’

So, did they manage to pull it off with Come of Age?
Answer: perhaps.

Let me begin by saying this – I don’t think this album will be a runaway hit like the first one was. The sounds that made The Vaccines garage-band gold are still there: tight arrangements, fuzzed out guitars and driving drum beats, but their new album seems to miss the pop-hooks that made their debut album so much fun.

Photograph: Graeme Robertson for the Guardian

In Come of Age, you follow The Vaccines as they transition from a care-free British garage band to a more mature, more controlled group that is not afraid to take its music along some darker turns. There are no quirky pop-punk nuggets like ‘If You Wanna’ or ‘Norgaard’ on Come of Age, and even when the songs pick up the pace they sound like the band is holding back on the reins.

Photo: Tom Martin/NME

That said, Come of Age has its own standouts that make it a solid album. Clever and personal lyrics keep the songs cohesive, and tight compositions keep a variety of guitar effects from being cluttered and sloppy. ‘Teenage Icon’ stands out as a wildly fun punk anthem, which is probably why they selected it as the first single off of the album. A whirlwind ‘No Hope’ and ‘Change of Heart Pt. 2’ give the album some gritty spunk while tunes like ‘Weirdo’ and ‘Aftershave Ocean’ explore the sublime.

Fans’ opinions may divide over Come of Age, but The Vaccines are showing that growing towards a more complex sound can leave an album maybe not as radio friendly, but still enjoyable on the whole.

 

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