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In the first in the Swipe Machine a series of features that debunks the hype surrounding artists. Alex Nelson takes on The Vaccines.

This album was always going to get good reviews. Of course it was. How could it not? Nobody in the associated music press wants to turn their backs hypocritically on the hyperbole shit storm they themselves created leading up to the release of The Vaccines debut album. ‘Oh, they’re the return of the Great British guitar band’ cried some, ‘oh, they’re the saviours of guitar music, they’re gonna make it cool again’ blurted others through hazy eyes, so sure of the opinions of others that they had to vomit them onto the pages of their second rate publications time and time again.

Yes, it seemed you couldn’t turn more than two pages of the country’s most popular music rags without spanking your gaze across a blown up photo of the day’s current indie dahhrlings. Hailing from London, their annoyingly stubbled faces beamed out at us for months, reminding us all how they were the next big thing destined for greatness. The BBC was just one of the many major institutions to say so (sort of) with their Sound Of 2011 poll, and they never get it wrong do they? (see: Sadie Ama, Air Traffic and Kubb)

I witnessed the band open the Norwich leg of the 2011 NME Awards Tour a couple of months back at the city’s UEA venue, and the atmosphere during their set was strangely prophetic. Here was a band, barely a year into their career, playing a venue usually reserved for bands with two or three albums worth of material under their collective belts at the least. Yet with not even a single released long player to draw from, they looked a little uncomfortable onstage in front of the uncharacteristically rabid crowd, almost as if they were testing the rock star water. They’d venture ever closer to the edge of the stage in a move of classic rock star ego stroking for a bit, before scuttering back to their defined parameters like a dog in a popular YouTube video, comically frightened in their naivety by an inanimate object. Except the ‘inanimate object’ The Vaccines may had to have been juggling with was mass
exposure, widespread fame (wanted or otherwise) and banal youth TV presenters asking them vapid questions like ‘If you could be vaccinated against one disease only, which would it be?’ So they had a right to be frightened.

Indeed, the pressure piled onto these poor four lads’ shoulders over the passing months must have been unbearable, and has, through no fault of the own, made its distinguishable mark on their debut record. Whereas most bands have a good run of
working the teeny tiny vomit soaked venues and clubs in front of an exclusive crowd of their mates, building up an established set of songs that they know are to the best of their abilities, working on them for months and honing them into a perfect package,
The Vaccines have been thrust into the limelight. With a bunch of admittedly single worthy songs in hand, there are also still a fair few tracks yet to be polished up into anything even touching on the classic.

A lot of their on What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? are well formed little ditties: the lovelorn genius of ‘Post Break-Up Sex’, or the crunchingly slack grunge chords of ‘Blow Up’, reminiscent of The Pixies’ ‘Velouria’, or the drunken Eaton clubhouse brawl of ‘Wreckin’ Bar (Ra Ra Ra)’. Indeed, in a lot of respects, the hype they have garnered can be perceived as being deserved, but there are still a lot of creases to iron out. ‘All In White’ and it’s surrounding songs bringing a noticeable mid-album/post-singles drag, proving there’s still plenty of filler drifting around these boys creative minds. Needless to say, the young crowds will still lap up every last note of it.

What did I expect from The Vaccines? Much, much more. But it isn’t the bands fault at all; they’ve only done what any band would do and released an album which they believe is to the best of their ability. It just so happens that in this case, the cruel monster that is the hype and excitement of the press and the music industry has taken them from us too early, undoubtedly forcing them into releasing a half- formed collection of songs. The fact they’re not the saviours of British guitar music is absolutely fine; bands very rarely are these days. It’s just that expectations have been ramped up so much for these four London lads that it become that much more noticeable when it doesn’t happen for them.

It’s such a shame that their imperfections were never given time and space to breath and sort themselves out, before being sucked in and spat out of The Hype Machine, settling for second best. The only solace is to be found in the fact that the album will
be met with the aforementioned glowing reviews from all the publications that have touted them as the next Great British guitar band, in fear of readership loyalty more than anything else. Afraid that readers may desert them if they show any signs of not
actually knowing what they’re talking about, therefore avoiding a musical tragedy as The Vaccines escape being crudely killed off by the music press for failing to deliver.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.