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The Vaccines

[The Mail On Sunday, 2011]

LET'S SAY YOU have a band. A brisk and buzzy indie-pop four-piece, fond of surf-rock, twang and echo, which resembles The Jesus And Mary Chain and The Ramones, the way a burger-chain's bargain menu resembles food. You call it The Vaccines. Your band is well-connected, and rises with astonishing rapidity, although whether these two things are linked is a matter of conjecture.
  Certainly, the idea of giving hostages to fortune does not seem to occur to you when you title your debut album What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? (Columbia out now)**. The garage rock you draw upon was made in garages from necessity. There is no such mother to your own invention. Which may explain why you don't possess a great deal of it; a deficiency you disguise quite well with borrowed style. As mothers go, your guitarist does have a gallery owner and property developer mum, who obligingly vacated her Fulham flat so your band might have the run of it. Fortune is clearly on your side anyway.
  Does any of this matter? One can't start judging music by the backgrounds and

advantages of those who make it, surely? In the case of individual acts, no, of course not. But in terms of the trend The Vaccines represent - the annexing of British pop music as an agreeable occupation by the well-off and self-entitled - yes, it does matter.
  It matters because it makes British pop as a whole stale, cosy, generic, unchallenging and unchallenged. And, where supposedly alternative music is concerned, renders it a parochial irrelevance. At this rate, our pop culture - for decades globally revered and influential - is heading for obsolescence, or at best a kind of pre-Beatles obscurity.
  The album, by the way, is almost exactly what I expected from The Vaccines. It's competent, at times modestly enjoyable, artificially brash. As ephemera, it doesn't thrill. As a work of substance, it doesn't register. It will do very well. It will change the lives of nobody except its creators. It will be another minor milestone in British pop's long journey to Insignificance - population: an awful lot of nice boys and girls, with ever-so supportive parents, who think this is a tremendous lark.

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