March 27, 2018 The Vaccines – Combat Sports (Album Review)
Spring may have only just arrived, but London-based Rock outfit The Vaccines are ready to provide you with the soundtrack of your summer – and likely your autumn and winter, too. The band is set to release their fourth LP, Combat Sports, on Friday, March 30, 2018 through Columbia Records, and it is packed full of infectious, radio-ready Pop Rock tunes.
Formed in 2010, this band has managed to rack up a staggering number of streams and album sales from their previous three records, including their much-loved 2011 debut, What Did You Expect from The Vaccines?, and most recent 2015’s English Graffiti . Not to mention, they have opened for acts like The Arctic Monkeys and Arcade Fire, to name just a few. Pretty impressive, but not surprising. The Vaccines manage to combine the best of classic London band, take that quintessential modern English sound, and give it some fresh character without losing sight of their myriad influences.
Take lead single “I Can’t Quit,” for example. Kicking off with just a twangy guitar chord and vocals from the charismatic Justin Young, The Vaccines are out to prove that they can combine some Indie and Punk influences and weave in their Pop sensibilities to make a bouncy, gleeful-sounding track while Young chants a frustrated chorus of “I can’t quit / I’m over it,” something any listener in today’s world is sure to feel on a spiritual level. Those relatable lyrics and reverbing guitar riffs bolstered by crashing drum fills continue through the endlessly catchy “Your Love is My Favorite Band” and “Surfing in the Sky.”
There are plenty of frenetic, exciting tunes on Combat Sports, but “Maybe (Luck of the Draw)” somehow feels lifeless despite its snappy, upbeat guitar riffs and lilting keyboards. Its sugary sentiment is sweet enough, but the vocal delivery and overall feeling behind the track lack any gusto. It is unfortunately a forgettable offering among a host of catchy album-mates, and one of the album’s few uninspiring moments.
While “Young American” is even slower, its evocation of The Libertines, one of London’s most beloved modern bands, is exciting – that classic London Rock sound is not gone after all. Though Pete Dougherty likely could not deliver lines like “suffocate me in between your thighs” with the softness Young manages. Despite being so short-and-sweet, the beauty of “Young American” is in its youthful simplicity, with hints of early Coldplay making this one of the album’s standouts.
Picking things back up once more with “Take It Easy,” The Vaccines have crafted another fun, fuzzy tongue-in-cheek bop that could easily become a summer anthem. The bright, carefree sound invokes the feeling of lazing on the beach or overly happy folks drinking some name brand soda. After all, “Why work hard when you can take it easy?”
By now you might be tired of hearing about Coldplay comparisons, but that is not a bad thing. The Vaccines call forth the ghost of a time when Chris Martin’s music was much more enjoyable with finisher “Rolling Stones.” Perhaps it is in the bright keys or Young’s vocal delivery on the song’s melodic bridge that conjure up these comparisons, but the band also manages to toss in some more Libertines here, too.
Of course, The Vaccines stamped their thumbprints all over “Rolling Stones” just as they have done with every track on Combat Sports. They have managed to take the many flavors of contemporary British Rock and somehow blend them all into another fun, fervent album. Those already familiar with the band will find plenty of new tunes to latch on to, and those lyrics laced with modern romance and youthful spirit are sure to capture the hearts of new listeners. For these reasons, CrypticRock gives Combat Sports 4 out of 5 stars.