The Vaccines

English Graffiti

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With two albums of real rock under their belts, the Vaccines take a left turn toward trashiness on their third record, 2015's English Graffiti. Back on their 2011 debut What Did You Expect from the Vaccines?, the bandmembers affected a studied detachment, a conscious decision to keep themselves at arm's length from either their hooks or their attitude. Four years later, they don't hesitate to embrace the tackier elements of being in a rock & roll band. English Graffiti spills over with fuzzed-out glam guitar and the neon glare of new wave synthesizers, all channeled through a post-punk filter pilfered from the Strokes. Where the Strokes remain concerned with indie cred even at this late date, the Vaccines are happy to settle for the surface, finding excitement in the basics of a big hook and an overly stylized surface. Such simple pleasures make English Graffiti an appealingly trashy little rock & roll record, one that does find room for the spaciness of the closing "Undercover" but is better understood by the walloping stomp of "Dream Lover" and the nervy cool of "Minimal Affection," an '80s homage containing no irony. These are candied sonic fantasias, passionate re-creations of the past with no reverence for history, and that divine, stubborn nostalgia fuels English Graffiti, turning it into the Vaccines' best record.

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