Music Reviews
Back in Love City

The Vaccines Back in Love City

(Super Easy/AWAL) Rating - 7/10

After quietly celebrating the 10th anniversary of their debut album, the Vaccines have decided to reinvent their sound on their fifth studio album. Convinced that they do not want to live from their past success, the London-based band takes risks and explores new ideas—something that is not always synonymous with success. However, it is their natural ability to continue generating impeccable anthems loaded with an infectious energy that keeps them relevant among many of their peers of the same generation who burst onto the scene at the same time they did.

Back In Love City is their tribute to country and American music, taking us to those warm and barren landscapes where our skin burns under the sun and a good drink at a road club can help to quench our thirst. After they successfully flirted with this sound after their covers EP Cozy Karaoke, Vol. 1, the band's desire to expand their scope is how it eventually became this album's main stylistic pillar. For the most part, frontman Justin Young blends the arid textures of Southern rock with affection and admiration. The album was recorded and produced on the famous Sonic Ranch in El Paso, Texas, the house that birthed some of the most important artists of the last few decades, from Beach House and Bill Callahan to Swans, among many others.

Daniel Ledinsky, who previously worked with the Vaccines on the single All My Friends Are Falling In Love, helped the band with thirteen pre-pandemic songs filled with references that seem to be taken directly from the minds of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodríguez. The poisoned guitars and frenetic percussion of Paranormal Romance prove how that southern sound fully seeps into their creative process. We also hear moments in which Young and his cohorts commit to traveling through the complex paths of experimentation, like on XCT, on which synthesizers and echoes conspire to raise the song's otherwise regular tone. However, the band does occasionally tread on a familiar path—sticking to the escapist pop-rock that made them successful. This is the case with Headphones Baby, where—in addition to successfully resorting to an instantly addictive formula—they show off their most delicious lyrical skills, bringing out a passionate and visceral side to a mundane context.

With Back In Love City, The Vaccines are inviting us to visit a lonely and remote place halfway between Ridley Scott's Los Angeles in Blade Runner and the acid universe of Cowboy Bebop. The London quintet brings us into a fictitious, neon-lit western dystopia, which could well have predicted what cities around the world ended up becoming months later. The ambition they pursue overall shows in what Young himself affirms to be the band's best work, and their belief in that shows through and through.