The Vaccines – Combat Sports Review

Three years ago, The Vaccines jumped on the synth-pop bandwagon with their release of English Graffiti, channelling the idea that the pining for eighties euphoria in indie groups was a winning formula. Not true; their third LP was a bit of a flop. Now, three years and two new bandmates later, the West London five-piece release an album reminiscent of their garage-guitar days, and is perhaps better than the initial sound that bought them their ticket to the bigtime. Welcome to Combat Sports.

Songs like Nightclub, Surfing in the Sky and Out On The Streets exemplify why Combat Sports is Come of Age sat on a red-hot flame. Sharp, clean guitar reigns, with thrashing chords topped with lyrics ready to be roared at festivals. The energy that bubbles in these tracks incite much more thrill than English Graffiti ever did. It reaches further into the Britpop era than anything else, with the stock British vocals bellowing brazen lyrics, but moulds the genre, adding fire to the tracks to make them all the more arena-worthy.

Despite the frequent growl of guitar, there are some softer numbers. Opener Put It On A T-Shirt recalls the no-nonsense indie of their earlier material most, with the more aggressive tones coming towards the end. Maybe (Luck of The Draw) precedes Young American. The former of the two reflects the Melody Calling EP’s twinkle, with piercing riffs and an ethereal sound. The lyrics are simpler – much like the overall track – but more heartfelt, and by no means boring. The latter is a seductive acoustic track that could easily have been a song Morrissey side-lined for his most recent release. The most stripped back on the album, it provides a nice break from the layers of heavy instrumentalism before jumping straight to Nightclub.

The shining star of the album, however, is I Can’t Quit; a stellar example of indie pop that glows without the over-use of synth. A track mostly whittled down to basics is the most fun, with lyrics that are completely infectious and hooks that are nowhere near genius but buoys a song that is effortlessly entertaining.

Combat Sports is exuberant, it’s clever, but also one of the most straightforward rock records I’ve heard in a while. Probably the best thing The Vaccines have ever done.

The Vaccines – Combat Sports: 9/10

Ellie Chivers

Single Review – The Vaccines – I Can’t Quit

Since The Vaccines’ last album English Graffiti, drummer Pete Robertson walked out, and Tim Lanham and Ioann Intonti walked in. And despite the switch up, the change in the band’s sound is only that of the clocks being turned back to 2011, as new single I Can’t Quit roars with the same powerful enthusiasm as their earliest anthems. Opening with a head-bopping intro to bass drum and guitar riff, it’s not long before the lyrics of the infectious hook come into play, prepared to take up permanent residence in your head, and even more prepared to sell out massive arena gigs. The lyrics aren’t necessarily sophisticated – this arena filling chorus is a repeated 6-word hook – but you can always rely on the now-5-piece for some straightforward alt-rock to put a smile on your face.

Eleanor Chivers

Single Review – The Vaccines – Handsome

Nearly two months after sharing ‘Handsome’, you can now get your hands on the lead single from their upcoming third studio album English Graffiti. They’ll be hoping for a marked improvement on their first two offerings that were labelled by a variety of reviewers as ‘incoherent’ or ‘trudging’ and for me they were another addition to the factory line of Indie fodder without much originality from the music to the lyrics and everything in-between with the odd glint of something more promising. Surely it’s time to break the mould? ‘Handsome’ certainly has a similar energy that was the highlight of the previous tracks and the song’s progressions are rapid whilst helped through by the hand-claps and the fuzzy lead sections. Other than that though, it’s just a catchy bit of Indie ordinance and it seems that so far, this album will be similar to the first two.