In 2011, The Vaccines slammed the indie rock world with an album that created a basis so strong for themselves that there was nowhere to go but up. Starting their musical career with “What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?” The Vaccines made their debut as a punk band with interesting experiences on love. From their first album to their third, The Vaccines slowly grew in their artistry and musical ideas. Inflating their punk sound both in instrumental presentation and vocals, The Vaccines proved their maturity and self reported versatility in the indie rock genre. This upward trend of musical growth took a slight downturn with The Vaccine’s newest album, “Combat Sports.” Reverting to their earliest sounds resembling “What Did You Expect From The Vaccines,” the 2018 album offers catchy tunes with the classic “The Vaccines” sound and story.
From the first chords of their first song, “Put It On a T-Shirt,” it is obvious to any loyal The Vaccines fan that this newest album is a tribute to what once was. The first song of the album is a perfect precursor to the rest of the album, being drum and guitar heavy right from the get-go. Making this album a distant cousin of The Vaccines’ first album, the lead singer, Justin Young, utilizes a smoothly assertive voice. In their second album, “Come of Age,” Young’s voice is loud, clear and raspier, setting off an angstier punk theme. This inclination of sound progression is seen with their third album “English Graffiti,” only to be brought back to a simple resolution in “Combat Sports.”
Where The Vaccines flourishes is in their lyrics. From album to album, themes of love, break-ups and so on are extremely apparent, but there is a new take in each album and in each song. In “Surfing In The Sky,” the listener is taken through the vague turmoil of losing someone once loved to another person. Lyrics like “You tell me I’m the one but I’m the one that gets away / So when you take your shot and there’s no one left to play” gives an interesting analogy to what moving on is like and how sometimes people come back. A classic song on each The Vaccines album is one that is so grossly intimate and gooey that it almost doesn’t fit. On “Combat Sports,” this is “Young American.” So grossly a love song, “Young American” gives a vulnerable take on love and its encapsulation. Beyond these exampled lyrics, The Vaccines create so many interesting analogies that there is no moment throughout the album where a listener is left alone and bored.
Apart from what makes this album so similar to what fans already knew from previous albums, The Vaccines do try new techniques in small ways. “Your Love Is My Favourite Band” starts off on a new foot with crystallized keyboards, interluding many times throughout the song. Throughout the entire album, The Vaccines also hint at a surfer sound. At the beginning of the album and interspersed in select songs, “Combat Sports” teases the wavy, surfer rock sound many would not expect from the band. Aside from subtle differences, “Combat Sports” exploits the bands unique lyrical writing, while taking advantage of their classic punk rock sound.
Like the maturation of a teenager, The Vaccines started a steady progression through the angst so often attributed to the age group. But much like this stereotypical ride through teenage years, the band comes back to a resolution of self and sound in “Combat Sports.” This aforementioned incline of sound exploration and subsequent decline is not a bad thing for The Vaccines. Visiting past sounds can be refreshing, which is exactly what The Vaccines offered to its fanbase in their latest album. Although not experimental and different like they are so known for, The Vaccines remind long time fans and new found listeners that where a band starts in their career is just as important as where they have been and will be.
“Surfing In The Sky”
“Maybe (Luck Of The Draw)”
“I Can’t Quit”