In theory, power-pop should be really easy: just make unabashedly catchy, even cheesy, songs. In reality, it’s hard, too often just simplistic cheese, and not enough Big Star. It’s not surprising that England’s The Vaccines went full-on power-pop for their latest, Combat Sports, the band long having lied on the mass appeal side of the art divide. But they do it really well.
If you’re gonna go full catch, be sure to do so right from the start, and The Vaccines do so with single “Put It on a T-Shirt”, a kiss-off that could fit in really any decade of the last fifty years. “Your Love Is My Favourite Band” is just as cheesy as that name sounds – yet hooky enough to justify it. Throughout the record, one can tell that not only are The Vaccines having fun, but also that they want you to, too.
The Vaccines might be a little too obsessed with the past (it takes gall to name a song “Young American”, to say nothing of “Rolling Stones”), and no one is going to confuse them with Radiohead. But with power-pop, it’s go big, or go home, and The Vaccines have gone big.