OK, so, we think that bands should never stand still, that they should continually try out new sounds/push the boundaries, and try to create something different with each new album? Agreed. However, it is possible for a band to depart from their previous sound to such a great extent that they are unrecognisable as the same band.
For example, track five begins - ‘(All Afternoon) In Love’ - and you could be forgiven for thinking: “Who is this band?” It’s a wistful and dreamy pop song, full of teenage-like pining and high pitched, dare I say, whining?
The whole album has a ‘50s/’60s pop feel, veering towards The Beach Boys, but nowhere near as good - maybe more like The Monkees. Where are the guitars? Where’s the rock? It’s like a new pair of pristine white trainers, a little shameful because everyone knows they’re new, they’re so much cooler when they’re dirty and scuffed up.
It feels like they try to get a bit rockier with ‘Dream Lover’, but again veer towards the ‘50s, as even the name suggests. Same with ‘Want You So Bad’. Don’t get me wrong, I love ‘50s pop tunes, but just trying to throw a few riffs in to make them modern feels patched together in a sort of Frankenstein’s Monster sort of way.
The band have famously said that they want this album to be so “genre-defining” that it will “sound terrible in 10 years”. Sadly, I don’t think it needs that long.
The only song that sounds like The Vaccines is ‘Handsome’, but even that feels lacking, carrying no real punch. Then there’s ‘20 / 20’, a song that seems like they are trying to sound like Vampire Weekend, but failing.
Generally, this is definitely not what I was expecting from The Vaccines.