‘English Graffiti’ marks the The Vaccines first release in two years, following their Melody Calling EP, and their first full studio album release three years ago (was it really that long!) with the all conquering ‘Come of Age’.
First track and lead single, ‘Handsome’ is a smash straight back into what The Vaccines are all about. Full of adrenaline rushing from the Vampire Weekend-esque guitar, the high octane track is almost reminiscent of ‘Wreckin’ Bar (Ra Ra Ra)’ from their debut album. The fast-paced ecstasy of the lyrics and the faded background bass which makes us feel like we are in a dingy New York club in the late 90’s. With the band recording the album in New York it’s fair to say some of their recording environment has rubbed off on the band here.
‘Dream Lover’ adds to the explosion of the opening of the album, the song seems to be heavier than their usual indie pick-up. With the dwindling guitar riff in the background, and the movement of the lyrics throughout the whole track. Justin sings nasally, ‘When you’re on my mind/ I kind of like it’, the seemingly depressing song does not fit with the explosion of the heavier guitar riffs and as much as I love the concoction of the two, there is something which just doesn’t seem to fit.
’20 / 20′ injects some fresh air back into the seams of the album, with some differing perspective. The distorted guitar reminding us again of the New York production which and more similarities to Vampire Weekend. Middle track, ‘Denial’ doesn’t fulfil the ecstatic opening which promised so much and the constant nasal angst that the band seem to throw out is something that could have perhaps be left behind.
Title track, ‘English Graffiti’ is a slower paced, showing a side to The Vaccines that we have rarely heard before – something almost Maccabee – like with the addition of the acoustic guitar strumming in the background adding to the personal-side of the song. The opening of ‘Want You So Bad’ sounds like a toned-down Tame Impala, however Justin and the band stick to the same long lost love theme throughout which begins to become slightly repetitive.
The final song from ‘English Graffiti’ is a nod to the psych scene in some sense. ‘Undercover’ is slotted into the album as if they are trying to fit in with the scene at the moment. However, with the mixture of fast pace ecstasy, distressing anti-romantic ballads and instrumental psych just doesn’t seem to fit together.