Our first taste of new music from The Vaccines sans drummer Pete Robertson brings us straight back to the garage of an original Brit-rock band. I’ll admit that it took me a few full listens of the album to get it, but right now this is topping the list as my favorite new record of 2018 (although we haven’t yet heard AM’s Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino – stay tuned).
Combat Sport’ quenches a thirst that many fans of Indie Brit Rock (myself included) were left with after the arguably more ‘experimental’ sound of their last record. In this post English Graffiti era the band are heading back to their roots and giving a raw but clean look at who the Vaccines are – and where they are going.
The familiar opening riffs of I Can’t Quit is classic Vaccines, a cocktail of frustration and ripping power chords – exactly what we’ve come to expect from the band. They also try out a glam-rock-Vampire-Weekend-style sound on their track Put It On A T-Shirt but with their signature garage-band edge. This kind of experimentation works wonders for the vibe of the album.
The refined sound of Maybe (Luck of the Draw) is a quintessential pop-rock love song with catchy lyrics and an uber-danceable 80s tune. Young American was a massive stand out, with an almost seductively-intoxicated-Alex-Turner vibe without all the hardcore noise. The intimate lyrics of Justin Young paired with the smooth synth of Freddie and Arni, make for a perfect combination.
My favourite track of the whole album has got to be Your Love Is My Favourite Band, with its fun bubblegum pop sound that undoubtedly reminds me of the transformative summer bonding montage between two misunderstood best friends in an indie coming of age story.
When all is said and done, this album sounds entirely and authentically Vaccines. Both Freddie and Justin have said that they feel ‘enthusiastic’ about their come-back to music this year, and boy did they deliver. Comparing ‘Combat Sports’ to their first or perhaps even second albums would show how much their sound has matured. They manage to do this without straying from the crux of The Vaccines – the powerful grunge and energy of a couple of mates bangin’ out some tunes.