Skip to main content

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