- ruby crowhurst
BACK IN LOVE CITY - THE VACCINES ALBUM REVIEW
The Vaccines's Back In Love City takes you on a trip to a city from a vague different universe, with sounds that feel familiar and brand new all at once.
Back In Love City is the latest album from The Vaccines, the first new music release from the band since 2018.
The album presents itself as a rough concept album - it's not fully-fledged fiction, but it doesn't feel particularly grounded in reality either. The album, unsurprisingly, focuses on a city that is reflective of those we see in dystopian movies and films, a vague shell of familiar cities, but the real difference being that in this city love is the key to everything.
Once again, The Vaccines take their sound and add another twist to it - with this album dazzling and shining in ways their previous haven't. With the new inclusion of synth-heavy basslines and weird and wonderful lyrical content, Back In Love City is a lot of things, but one thing it's not is boring.
The album opens up with the punchy and intense title track which features throbbing guitar riffs and a thumping repeitive chorus which echos the lyrics "We can't buy love 'cause we spent it all on you" four times over, that really sets the scene for the rest of this album. Catchy tunes are never far away no matter where you are on the album, with 'I'm in Your Headphones' and 'XCT' also having an infectious groove to them.
A lot of the tracks on the album, including the previously mentioned, feel incredibly fantastical and full of wonderment at this new world. It's never quite clear whether the setting for the concept is paradise or a dystopian nightmare, and every song on the album gives a bit of both.
Far from the classic British indie-rock we've seen before, Back In Love City feels a lot more experimental, not just with the new concept album style but also with use of all sorts of new instruments, synths and production techniques which are unfamiliar territory for a band of The Vaccines kind. It takes a tep away from classic British indie and, dare I say, develops more of a bombustious American tone to it. This isn't really a surprise when you find the creation of the album stems from the frontman's move to LA, but it is suprising to see it go so astonishingly patriotic for the 'land of the free'.
'Heart Land' could be one of the most passionate arguments for the beauty of America that's been heard in recent years, which makes it ironic that the band are one of the powerhouses of the British indie scene. It is possible that the fictionality of the album is infused in this song, as parts of it feel very tongue in cheek with lyrics like "Still remember falling in love with you, America / Michael Jordan, Tony Hawk's, America" but quite frankly, the love for the 'heart land' feels genuine especially as there's other songs that are infused with a more country western style. The post-chorus of 'Paranormal Romance' feels like it could belong to a retro western film, and 'El Paso' features a guitar that feels very country-reminiscent too.
Overall, it's fairly difficult to really put Back In Love City in to any kind of box. It moves across genres, concepts, lyrical depth and production techniques to make something that you just really never know what's coming next. Having had a career that spans 10 years, it is impressive that The Vaccines are so happy to adapt their style, and change things up a bit, as a lot of bands in the scene are infamously unwilling to change it up. This ability to experiment whilst not losing any of the essence of The Vaccines is why this album is a success, and why albums by the band just keep on being as successful as they are.