4
Sep
2012
The Vaccines: Come of Age
Come of Age
Darren
Bottom Line: The Vaccines follow up to last year's debut does not disappoint.

Come of Age

It seems like just yesterday that I first heard of the Vaccines, probably because their debut album What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? only came out last year. This album made many "best of 2011" countdowns (including my own!), and set a high bar for a sophomore release. Despite the short span between albums, Come of Age definitely reaches and maybe surpasses this bar.

What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? was a mix of short and powerful catchy tunes ("If You Wanna","Norgaard") and longer more mellow tracks ("Wetsuit", "All In White"), with the Vaccines proving themselves adept at a variety of styles. Come of Age again shows this, noticeably taking on a more retro sound that seems to be influenced by a good amount of 70s punk. The indie garage sound is still there, but it's less polished and more staccato. Singer Justin Young's vocals are more stripped down, and his reverb-heavy croon is sparse on the album.

Come of Age opens with single "No Hope," an anthem of insipid youth a sound reminiscent of the Clash and the Ramones. Young's vocals are at their most stark here, and I actually had to check I was listening to the Vaccines the first time I played it. Lyrically this may be my favorite off the album, as Young opens with "I could bore you with the truth about an uneventful youth or you could get that rap from someone else," before moving into the chorus (that I find very relatable to now), "Cause when you're young and bored and twenty-four/ and don't know who you are no more/ there's no hope and it's hard to come of age." Second track "I Always Knew" reminds a bit of a faster version of "A Lack Of Understanding" from their debut, yet the 60s sounding guitar twang and snare buildup to the chorus again give it a retro sound.

The album then goes into single "Teenage Icon," my favorite track off Come of Age. The chorus of "I'm no teenage icon/ I'm no Frankie Avalon/ I'm nobody's hero," might be the catchiest I've heard all year, and I personally love the trend of self-deprecating lyrics such as "reserved and shy/your average guy/no pissing stare/just out of shape with messy hair." While the song could have fit in with their debut, it still has a slight retro garage sound to it, with a really powerful lead guitar and solo over a fairly fast beat.

Come of Age continues the retro sound with the 60s British rock-sounding "All in Vein" and the Clash-esque "Ghost Town," before moving into the more pop-sounding "Aftershave Ocean." Things get quiet for "Weirdo," which sounds slightly like "Wetsuit" from their debut, before getting stepped up again for the aggressive "Bad Mood." The short and simple "Change of Heart Pt. 2" (seriously, where's part one?) sounds like something that would have fit right in on their debut, yet still works on Come of Age too. "I Wish I Was A Girl," has another retro-punk sound, although the lyrics aren't at their most creative here. However, even when the lyrics falter on this album (especially with this track and "Aftershave Ocean"), the strong guitar-work usually makes up for it. Like its debut, Come of Age closes with a mellow song ("Lonely World"), which passes as a closer but seems slightly too ambitious for the rest of the tracks.

All in all Come of Age is a very strong successor for the Vaccines' debut, and doesn't try to duplicate its sound to produce a carbon copy. The album isn't perfect, as the occasional lyrical blunder can dull the moment and some tracks can blend together towards the end. However, the Vaccines again show that they can handle a variety of sounds and styles, and I'm still excited for whatever they might come out with in the future.

Grade: A
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