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The Vaccines: English Graffiti

Mid-career shot in the arm.

When you’ve broken the arenas with raw-assed Ramones rock’n’roll, where do you go next? After all, the Ramones struggled. For The Vaccines, kings of wry and wrecked 50s punk-pop pastiches, the next step is to embrace 80s synthetics 10 years after everyone else, but do it smartly.

Tracks like Minimal Affection, Gimme A Sign and Denial combine Kate Bush rhythms and Buggles plinks with the suave sheen of latter-era Strokes, while 2020 and Radio Bikini give their trademark retro-pop buzz a modernist electronic gleam.

Their ballads now float serenely overhead like futuristic bliss bubbles designed by Jeff Lynne and the self-deprecation that once saw singer Justin Young declare ‘I’m no teenage icon, I’m no Frankie Avalon’ has been upturned: ‘Thank God I’m handsome,’ he sings on Handsome, partly a dig at talentless pop puppets, partly a wink in the mirror.

Lovers of their wild barrages of punk hooks might balk at its languid pace and slickness – they’ve clearly spent too long hanging with Hurts - but The Vaccines have found a snappy, if predictable, way out of the indie punk plughole./o:p

Mark Beaumont is a music journalist with almost three decades' experience writing for publications including Classic Rock, NME, The Guardian, The Independent, The Telegraph, The Times, Uncut and Melody Maker. He has written major biographies on Muse, Jay-Z, The Killers, Kanye West and Bon Iver and his debut novel [6666666666] is available on Kindle (opens in new tab).