By Mary Chang on Wednesday, 21st August 2013 at 12:00 pm
It has been a while since we’ve gotten any sort of meaty release from The Vaccines, but the wait was over earlier this month. The raucous rock band released their ‘Melody Calling’ EP, a set of three new songs and a remix. If you’ve gotten used to their mostly loud and boisterous sound of their first two albums, 2011′s ‘What Did You Expect from the Vaccines?’ and 2012′s ‘Come of Age’, then this EP might come as a bit of a shock, as Cheryl attested to it in this In the Post feature last month. I’ll explore that sentiment further in this EP review.
Title track ‘Melody Calling’ sees the West Londoners embrace a ’60s / ’70s Eagles-ish sound, with driving guitars and certainly less shrill and less insistent vocals from the usually screamy Justin Hayward-Young. The first time I heard this on Steve Lamacq’s drivetime show on 6music, I would have never guessed it was the Vaccines until Lammo himself announced who the song was by. While the song has a mostly chill Californian vibe, there’s a brief – all too brief – guitar solo. I would have appreciated more shredding. True to its title, ‘Everybody’s Gonna Let You Down’ is a hangdog kind of song, which chugs along in okay but not terribly inspiring fashion.
In contrast, better guitar work is to be had in ‘Do You Want a Man’. You can just see this soundtracking future television adverts showing off summer: with its freewheeling style, which includes what sounds like distorted honky tonk piano (harpsichord?) and a chorus and outro that you can sing along to, this is a much more fun song. The EP concludes with a remix of the song by the EP’s producers, production heavyweights Jon Hill and Rich Costey. The very ’70s sound will make you want to break out the bell bottoms and platform heels. But the concluding effort on the release comes across as a caricature. Anyone who’s been pumping their fists at the Vaccines’ festival appearances over the last couple of years will be facepalming right about now.
While the Vaccines’ brand of lad rock 2 years ago proved polarising, I can’t help but wonder what prompted the band’s change of direction. The days of the immediacy of ‘Norgaard’ and ‘Wrecking Ball (Ra Ra Ra)’, the sheer poppiness of ‘Teenage Icon’ and ‘No Hope’, or even the hipster angst of ‘Post Break-Up Sex’ and ‘Wetsuit’ are gone. Whether the public will take to this new version of the Vaccines remains to be seen. It’s interesting that Cheryl viewed this change of direction in title track ‘Melody Calling’ in her In the Post article as a sign of maturity; to me, the change in direction on the EP as a whole seems to indicate the band’s losing the plot.
The Vaccines’ ‘Melody Calling’ EP is out now on Columbia Records.
By Mary Chang on Monday, 19th August 2013 at 6:00 pm
The promo video for the Vaccines‘ ‘Melody Calling’ has an explicit warning at the start, so watch at your own risk. Is it the use of a Walkman – with actual cassette tapes? – that’s so salacious? Watch it below.
Read Cheryl’s In the Post article on the song ‘Melody Calling’, the title track of their EP out now, here.
The Vaccines have rejoined us, mid-July with new track ‘Melody Calling’, designed to tempt listeners away from bubbly summertime pop for some late summer heat. Easy to listen to, the foursome fills up the perfectly sized 3 minutes with simple, repeated lyrics and a tiny bit of trademark crunchy guitar. With a melody that is indeed catchy, the sound is a touch more grown up than the lad rock they are so well known for. Perhaps the change to big-time LA producers John Hill and Rich Costey has prompted this advance?
Although their last album ‘Come of Age’ arrived just 10 months ago, this is the title track from a new EP out in a couple week’s time, acting also as a summertime tease to whet our appetites for what’s to come and perhaps temper expectations from ardent fans. But if this new sound heralds a change for the Vaccines, I will be on board. I was not as big a fan of their previous ‘Post Break-Up Sex’-kind of songs. The music has more depth and sophistication to it despite the lackluster repetition in the lyrics. It could bode well for Justin Young and company. But I will reserve judgment until I hear more.
The ‘Melody Calling’ EP from the Vaccines will be out on the 12th of August. Stream the track in the Soundcloud widget below.
By Mary Chang on Tuesday, 5th February 2013 at 2:00 pm
I remember one of my musician friends (he won’t be named here) complaining upon seeing the Vaccines on the BBC’s Glasto coverage in summer 2011. He said that looking at them on the Other Stage made him sick, that it signalled the death of British guitar rock. While I didn’t take his words to heart, I myself was not too impressed with the band at that time, or any time before; I just assumed they were a bunch of blokes who just happened to get very lucky because NME decided to choose them as the new ‘it’ band.
If you go back through the TGTF archive, the first time we truly wrote about them was when they were voted by the fans in late December 2010 for the #7 spot in the TGTF 10 for 2011 poll. I never received any official promo and had to scramble to find a photo of them at the time. Moving a good 2 years forward, the band have released two albums, ‘What Did You Expect from the Vaccines?’ in 2011 and ‘Come of Age’ last year, and they enjoy massive success back home.
But they’ve only had a handful of relatively low profile appearances in America over the last 2 years: SXSW, Coachella, and a support slot with Arctic Monkeys. So it was with much surprise that the 9:30 Club Twitter account a couple days prior to their show in DC Friday night announced a low ticket warning; their Web site announced the day of the show that it was sold out. By the time we arrived at the 9:30 to queue for the show, we learned that suddenly 50 tickets had been released. So the show was sold out…pretty much. It certainly felt sold out, as when singer Justin Hayward-Young asked, “what does Washington sound like on a Friday night?” the resultant cheer was massively loud and sounded like nearly one voice.
At first, I was pretty surprised to see that most of the crowd was underage. This made more sense when the Vaccines’ only opener, San Cisco, took the stage. They’re an indie pop band from Fremantle, Western Australia; the second frontman Jordi Davieson addressed the crowd, female squeals emanated from the already full floor. XFM DJ Mike Walsh has compared their sound to Vampire Weekend, which I could understand seeing them live.
There’s a carefree sillness in ‘Lyall’, in the lyrical delivery that included other singer Josh Biondillo sounding like a bird and a quality that I tried to explain on my last trip to Oz to our Aussie friends at the AU Review that is inherently Australian: a certain special, poppy rhythm. They delivered to us new song ‘Beach’, along with ‘Reckless and ‘Wild Things’, all the while being screamed and shouted out by their already devoted disciples. They acted as a good warm-up to the headliner.
I say this, because when you go to see the Vaccines, you’re not there for the intelligent lyrics. Their style of music is for fist pumps, raucous growls, dad-dancing and drunken nights. They came on stage to an introduction of Slade’s ‘Cum On Feel the Noize’; its identity was probably lost on most of the crowd. I was so surprised ‘Teenage Icon’, the best single from their current album, was played six songs in. Why give up your biggest hit right away? Though for the majority of DC fans present, the whole evening was lit up with hits, as Hayward-Young whipped his hair back and forth in a typical rock star move, while new band Instagramer Freddie Cowan rocked out on his guitar, eliciting screams when he leaned on an amp and was nearly close enough for the young crowd to reach out and touch.
Though the song order at times was strange (the slower ‘Wetsuit’ dropped the energy that was only partially recaptured with ‘Ghost Town’) and ‘Post Break-Up Sex’ was offered up I felt far too cheerfully for an emotionally raw song, mostly the band were letting loose on a blistering set of loudly and furiously played songs short in length. I wondered how they could top ‘Teenage Icon’ or ‘If You Wanna’ at the end of the show. The answer? An unrivaled version of ‘Norgaard’. And for a Friday night out with you mates, you can’t really ask for more than that.
By Mary Chang on Tuesday, 23rd October 2012 at 3:00 pm
The Vaccines have announced a short arena tour for May 2013. Tickets are on sale this Friday (26 October) at 9 AM.
Wednesday 1st May 2013 – Margate Winter Gardens
Thursday 2nd May 2013 – London 02 Arena
Saturday 4th May 2013 – Carlisle Sands Centre
Sunday 5th May 2013 – Leeds Millennium Square
Monday 6th May 2013 – Llandudno Cymru Arena