In the run up to the release of Come Of Age, it would seem that The Vaccines’ frontman Justin Young had taken his own advice and ‘grown his hair out long’. But the hairstyles aren’t the only thing that’s changed; on their sophomore effort, The Vaccines seem to have kept all the charm and appeal of their enigmatic debut while drawing in edgier influences.
It’s a similar assortment of fast paced three chord rock and roll with more hooks than a fishing tackle shop, but musically the band have ventured into new ground. Weirdo has tinges of familiar Cobain-esque grunge to it, and the spaghetti western riffs of I Always Knew see them tentatively dipping their elbows into the waters of surf rock. Throughout, lead guitarist Freddie Cowan has more than sufficient opportunity to flex his musical muscles, hammering out the 60’s style riffs to I Wish I Was A Girl revealing more ‘chunk’ to their sound than heard on their debut.
Come Of Age sees a change in subject matter as well as sound. While What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? featured lyrics about ‘F*cking in the nearest room’, Come Of Age is more of a dissertation on youth, with all the hormonally charged mood swings to suit. The brash and angst fuelled Bad Mood could be the soundtrack to a 1950’s knife fight, with Young spitting ‘Better get ready if you rattle my cage.’ Meanwhile, No Hope is a candidly rueful gaze over the garden wall of adolescence and into the unforgiving adult world.
Essentially, Come Of Age is a snapshot of a band caught in this twilight zone: . Last summer’s next big thing have endured, triumphed under the hype and produced a more sophisticated and well rounded follow up to an album that set the bar so high for them. Perhaps they’ve not sparked the return of British ‘guitar’ music that critics promised they would last year, but they’re not writing for the critics: Particularly on this album, The Vaccines are their own band. All cliches aside, The Vaccines have come of age – and they’ve done so with style.