Friday, April 02, 2021

Looking back on 10 years of The Vaccines (Yes, we mean the band)

In light of The Vaccine’s releasing a limited edition reissue of their debut album to commemorate the 10th anniversary of ‘What Did You Expect from The Vaccines’ let's take a look at the legacy and career of the band. 

Firstly, I’ll try to avoid making the obvious jokes since they do veer on the side of low-hanging fruit but I will speculate that much like the band ISIS, The Vaccines must surely regret their name in times like these. 

Formed by Justin Young and Freddie Cowan in late 2009, The Vaccines dropped their debut album in March 2011 just months after their single “If You Wanna” made waves in the music scene. The album was widely praised for being energetic, whimsical, and bringing a youthful energy to the tail-end of the Britpop scene that was struggling to maintain its balancing act between pop and ‘that rock’n’roll’. 

Unfortunately, it seems that this upward momentum did not last long enough to propel the band into the realm of ‘important indie acts of the 2010’s’ and, at the risk of repeating a ‘landfill indie’ controversy, the reception to the Vaccines seemed to ‘cool down’ more and more with every album they released. “Tepid” and “lukewarm” were both descriptors that have been used in reference to the band, that I came across in doing research for this article. Despite scrolling through music boards and asking friends of friends for their opinions on the band, I cannot find anyone willing to call themselves ‘a big fan’ of the Vaccines in 2021. 

So what happened between the best-selling debut album of 2011 and now to turn the band into the musical embodiment of ‘always the bridesmaid, never the bride’? Well, the best theory I have is that they were simply too late to the game. By the time the Vaccines had released their second album in 2012, the indie-rock scene was oversaturated with landmark albums from acts like The Wombats, Bombay Bicycle Club, and Arctic Monkeys, and while The Vaccines were by no means bad they were never able to recreate that feeling of ‘freshness’ that they encapsulated within their debut album. 

For those that need proof of this general apathy towards the bands later releases, all you have to do is visit their YouTube page where you will see that certain popular singles of theirs are able to amass millions of views but their page itself has a mere 123k subscribers; or you could visit their RYM page to see the drop in not only overall ratings of later albums but also the number of people that bothered to comment on later releases. 

It seems that the band fell into the same trap of ‘peaking with your first release’ that so many other acts before them have also fallen victim to. But while this is true, it is not to take away from the fact that for a moment in time The Vaccines looked like the future of indie-rock. Ultimately, their first release was a great one and there is something to be said about not every band having to be innovative, or even important, to make a good album. 

Dilara Ball

Image: Official album cover 

1 comment:

  1. The first album is stacked from front to back with great songs. Since then, just kind of OK songs. I'm curious to know why... I don't think it's the production, though I do think subsequent albums have sounded uncomfortably rigid. I saw them play in April 2012, about a year after the first album and a few months before the second came out, and they were fantastic, a bit loose for a band playing so much, but they definitely rocked. I imagine the second album had been recorded by then though they only played a couple of songs I didn't recognize. I'm curious to know why the dropoff. Or conversely, why the original magic?


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