Album Review: The Vaccines – Combat Sports

With how much of a mainstay of the British rock scene they’ve been, it’s hard to imagine that The Vaccines’ debut only came out in 2011. Since then they’ve taken the UK by storm, releasing three great albums, redefining themselves with each one. Each album they’ve released has gained more and more critical acclaim, so can this one continue that trend?

The band have made a point of redefining themselves with every album, and this one is no different, dropping the poppier sounds of 2015’s English Graffiti, and returning to their rock roots. Of course, you can still hear the influence of that album here- there are occasional bursts of synthesisers, but for the most part, the only instruments on here are the ones that the band play. Their sound is slower and more measured than their first two albums, but with that comes a certain quality- a more mature sound, remeniscent of Sam’s Town by The Killers.

A song that defines this sound is opener ‘Put It On A T-Shirt’, which instantly makes a statement, sounds like the band breaking free of the previous album’s clutches, and all of the difficulty that has befallen them over the past couple of years. The song genuinely sounds free and energetic, what will seem to be a theme over the next few tracks. They venture into quieter territory with ‘Young American’, a slow, sultry ballad, while ‘Nightclub’ is the closest they get to their early sound, with the heaviest riff on the album thundering out in what is a very cathartic song. Not to mention ‘Your Love Is My Favourite Band’, the absolute highlight of the album, which’ll have you dancing and singing along.

If there was one word I’d use to describe this album, it’d be cathartic. The album feels like a way for the band to escape from all their recent troubles, and play some of the best music of their careers- and who could blame them, really. It’s definitely a step in the right direction, and whatever sort of reinvention comes next for the band, I’ll be here for it.

Best songs: Nightclub, Your Love Is My Favourite Band

Score: 8/10

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