With the cocksure album title, incredibly well received debut tracks, and, we would guess, many declarations of love off the back of the moody jilted lover stares they so expertly delivered in their Post Break-Up Sex video, you can see why people might be just a little suspicious (but mainly jealous) of The Vaccines. But it’s not all smooth moves and knocked-out-in-their-sleep tunes for the four-piece, as this first full-length proves.
And it’s the rawer, less-than-perfect moments that make What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? a hell of a lot more interesting than the copycat indie rock record it at first appears to be. The Strokes-isms are nothing new and they rear their heads from the off, paraded unabashedly; from the woozy guitar solos you can whoop along with, to the buzzing Room on Fire riffs and the interplay between chugging rhythm section and chk-a chk-a lead fret-work, Casablancas and co’s influence is all over the opening tracks. A Lack of Understanding then channels Editors in its not quite believable robotic melancholy, but there’s a point where it turns, and as Justin Young waveringly asks "Are you ready are you ready are you ready for this? Should I shake your hand or should I give you a kiss?" the track is brought to a genuinely goosebump-inducing close.
Blow It Up feels throwaway as a follow-up, and Wetsuit’s lyrics are so painfully bad, it’s hard to take its soaring melodies seriously. "Put a wetsuit on, come on come on / Grow your hair out long, come on come on / Put a t-shirt on, do me wrong, do me wrong, do me wrong," Young croons, as we try our best to imagine singing along to this and not feeling like a moron – not possible. Similarly Post Break-Up Sex boasts its own share of dreadful couplets; Nørgaard is Ramones-ish bubblegum punk fizz and frippery; and Under Your Thumb finds Young repeating "Eleanor" over and over by way of a chorus – hardly inspiring.
The final four tracks, however, boast an unanticipated flash of brilliance from The Vaccines and are consequently very much worth exploring. The lolloping bass-led All in White is a highlight as we hear real vulnerability from Young over an epic chorus. Emotion bubbles into the recordings again during the frenetic, shriek-tinged attack of Wolf Pack, and before it turns into the stark, piano ballad Somebody Else’s Child, Family Friend builds into a thrilling cacophony of pounding rhythms, cracking vocals and screeching guitars. The less they do big dumb bravado, it seems, the more there is to love about this London bunch.