We all need the upbeat these days more than ever, but too often that comes off as simple & saccharine. But when power-pop hits right, it hits so right. The Vaccines already hit that sweet spot on 2018’s Combat Sports (QRO review), and yet still up their game further as they get Back In Love City.
[note: when The Vaccines formed a decade ago, they didn’t know that they would have the best band name for the 2020s. Well, except for your correspondent’s high school punk band, Quaranteen…]
It all starts so well with the titular opener, big, driving power-pop that you’ll pretty instantly love (and a great track to hook new fans). There’s killer celebrations in “Headphones Baby” and “Jump Off the Top”. Yet The Vaccines also show their ability to go sad with the beautiful “El Paso”, and dark drive with “XCT”. Even if you wish it was party all the time, the shadier detours justify themselves (and some other happy songs do veer towards simplistic, which would be worse if Love City was love all the time). There’s even the sweet ode to America, “Heartland” (“I’m not giving up on you”).
And Back In Love City is an album that definitely should shine live, so hopefully soon we can go out get our Vaccines.