Album Review - The Vaccines: Back In Love City (September 10, 2021)
In a year where so much travel has been curtailed, The Vaccines have based their fifth album around cities both real and fictional. There is a lot of longing for human connection and desire for escape in the lyrics, but the result is a fun, uplifting listen that really does make you feel like you’ve been transported to another place or perhaps dropped into the middle of a classic ‘80s movie.
There is certainly a definite 80’s thriller vibe to the title track, it’s fast paced from the start and it feels a bit like being in the middle of a car chase. It sets the tone for the whole album which is continued by "Alone Star". This one evokes Dallas to me, cool with just a side order of country from the twanging guitars.
"Headphones Baby" changes things up, with a euphoric dance style start. It feels like the perfect festival track and it’s the highlight so far. "Wanderlust" feels like the track that’s taking us to LA, it starts slow but then morphs into a brilliant wall of noise and the musical influences are as diverse as the population of the city it evokes.
"Paranormal Romance" slows things down just a little bit and the mix of a marching beat and a soaring chorus gives it a western movie climax feel. "El Paso" keeps us in a desert landscape with a floaty vibe that evokes a strong sense of wide open space. It feels very reminiscent of the Pet Shop Boys, both lyrically and sonically.
"Jump off the Top" is the Tokyo song for me, completely different to its predecessor, its fast paced and frantic and a very obvious crowd favourite as a live track. "XCT" is the hardest and loudest of the tracks and its my favourite of the whole album. "Bandit" is another fun one, probably the Las Vegas song, but because I’m not very classy it’s making me think of Blackpool.
The final two songs wrap the album up on a quieter note "Heart Land" is the ballad, the obvious ode to small town America. I’ll choose to let it transport me to the little part of Ohio that I once called home, but you can really let it take you to whatever part of that vast country your mind can conjure. "Pink Water Pistols" closes the album gently, the end of the adventure as well as the end of the album.
The various cities that have inspired the album come through clearly across the tracks and you really do feel like the band have taken you travelling with them. It’s an amazing ride as well with great beats that stick in your head and clever, memorable lyrics. Each song is evocative of its own place but there are clear threads that bind them all together making a very coherent whole. It demands repeated listens and it's worthy of them, a brilliant, fresh sounding record that makes me want to get out and see the world again.
I’ve seen The Vaccines a few times and they are always great live, they are touring across the UK right now - If you're feeling comfortable in crowds I’d recommend seeing them, you’ll have a great time rocking out to these new tracks.
Top tracks: "Headphones Baby", "Wanderlust", and "XCT".