Music review: 'Combat Sports' by The Vaccines
Elizabeth Proffitt | Contributing Writer
English indie rock band, The Vaccines dropped their fourth studio album “Combat Sports” on March 30. “Combat Sports” doesn’t stray far from the band’s preoccupation with punchy drumbeats and meaningful lyrics. The 11-track album features songs that revisit roots not explored since their debut album “What Did You Expect From the Vaccines?”
“I Can’t Quit” seems like a return to a lot of their old influences. The first few monotonous lyrics break into low-fi chaos, with lead singer Justin Young crooning about change and being just generally “over it.”
“I Can’t Quit,” one of the singles on the album, sounds similar to some of The Vaccines past hits and singles from previous albums. Fans of “Teenage Icon” from their sophomore album “Come of Age” will feel like The Vaccines have found their way back to their roots.
“Your Love is My Favourite Band” seems uncharacteristically sappy for the band that tends to lean toward the more cynical, gritty parts of the romantic realm when they touch on it at all.
Another song that differs slightly from the band’s usual punchy garage rock vibe is “Surfing in the Sky.” It starts sounding like the beginning of a teen beach movie from the ‘60s and transitions into their usual electric guitar soaked lyrics about escapism and romantic wish fulfillment.
“Young American” is the slowest, most amorous song on the album. It doesn’t sound as uncharacteristically sugary sweet as “Your Love is My Favourite Band” but still captures the softer side of The Vaccines that fans got used to with songs from previous albums like “Somebody Else’s Child” on their debut album.
While most songs are lyrically poetic, this song feels like someone took a previously written full poem and put it to music, in the best way possible. Lyrics like “Take me to the birthmark on your arm/And let me live forever in your palm” show that the band has a whole lot of soul under their indie rock exterior.
“Nightclub” is a particularly interesting track on the album because it sounds like a mix of The Vaccines and the Arctic Monkeys. Reportedly, Ross Orton, who helped produce the Arctic Monkeys’ “AM” LP was also present on this album.
While the influence is there, the band retains their sound while singing biting commentary on love and desire. “So I become a bubble-bath for my sociopath/But with the God-given right of the socialite/ She said she only thinks of love like a long weekend/But she might jump in if I show her to the deep end.”
The album does have lighthearted songs like “Take It Easy” with cheeky lyrics like “I wanna push your buttons but don’t wanna turn you off” and “When I stop working you can put me in the trash.”
The final song on the album “Rolling Stones” however turns even more cynical and sums up the major visual theme of the album with the line, “The art of deception is a contact sport.”
The song also focuses on varying aspects of power and even media attention, presumably that the band has received. “But when I float to the top I tried a lucky guess/But I only go fishing for negative press/Cause I’ve been to the bottom and the bottom is free.”
The Vaccines are currently touring the UK for this album and have yet to announce dates for the United States.