The Vaccines are best known for their frantic chords and a whirlwind of aggressive vocals and memorable, infectious melodies. But on ‘English Graffiti’, it’s clear that they’re now looking for more of a challenge…
Their second album ‘Come Of Age’ questioned this formula, opting for a little more attitude and melancholy without necessarily obliterating the mould. Yet on their third album, The Vaccines stray away from their prize-winning sound more than they ever have to date.
Granted, the machine gun vocals of ‘Handsome’, ’20/20′ and ‘Radio Bikini’ will more than satisfy your cravings for punk-rock mayhem, but the rest of ‘English Graffiti’ may initially leave you feeling a little lost. ‘Dream Lover’s monumentally thick riffs feel like a glam-rock version of Arctic Monkeys’ ‘Do I Wanna Know‘ whilst ‘(All Afternoon) In Love’ is an uncharacteristically delicate, ethereal piano ballad. ‘English Graffiti’ often goes several miles past the possibility of being labelled as ‘ambitiously diverse’, instead almost arriving at a split personality diagnosis.
You’ve undoubtedly got a touch of melancholy in a similar vein to ‘Aftershave Ocean’ with the contagious ‘Minimal Affection’, but tracks like ‘Denial’, ‘Want U So Bad’ and ‘Maybe I Could Hold You’ immediately feel like iTunes suddenly went on shuffle. Contrasting matters further, the bold chords and repetitious chorus of ‘Give Me A Sign’ ventures a little too disturbingly close to U2 territory for our liking. The understated instrumental symphony that is ‘Undercover’ finally acts as a full-stop to ‘English Graffiti’.
As an album ‘English Graffiti’ may be a little incoherent to say the least, but each individual song undeniably holds its own as a stand-alone article. It’s just a shame that they couldn’t exist harmoniously together, but perhaps that’s why you shouldn’t put a tiger in a zebra’s cage? 6.5/10