This blog has existed since the end of June, and since then, I’ve waited for an album to be released that I absolutely loved so that I could write about it and share it with all of you. Truth be told, all the albums that I anticipated this year had already been released before then. The Vaccines’ third album, English Graffiti came out in May and I, of course, am enamoured by it. Florence + the Machine’s new record, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful was released exactly a week later, and it is absolutely incredible. Two records put out by two of my favourite bands, and both of them have completely inspired me since their releases. I’m inspired by all sorts of records by all sorts of artists from Blondie to Bob Dylan to The Strokes to The Darcys, and I think it’s important to continue talking about your favourite albums even months and years after they come out so that more and more people can listen and feel the effects of the music. That’s why I’ve decided to start this blog segment. First up on my list is “Come of Age” by none other than The Vaccines. (Shocker, I know.)
Come of Age is the band’s sophomore record, released on September 2nd, 2012. I discovered it a couple months later, and it is my most played album on iTunes and on my turntable. It’s an incredible collection of undeniably rock n’ roll tracks that range from hard-core jams to slow, moody songs. The first time I listened to it, it hit me hard. I hadn’t really felt that kind of thing from music before then, or at least not to that degree, so I automatically knew it was something special. And I was a thousand percent correct.
Every sound on this record feels perfect. From the tinkering of the drums at the beginning of “No Hope” to Justin’s intake of breath as “I Wish I Was a Girl” comes to a close to the back-up vocals on “Teenage Icon.” And those are just the little things. The songs themselves were recorded live, giving them a sort of intimate quality. You feel close to the notes Arni pulls out of the bass and the words that drip off Justin’s tongue. Even the bonus tracks are incredible – they’re the kind of tracks that make you wish the album itself was longer so that these songs could’ve been pressed onto vinyl as well and you could hear them come crisply through a needle.
This record came out quite quickly after The Vaccines’ debut record, What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?, and you can hear that a little in the tone of the record. It’s fast-paced and it feels like it’s finished almost as soon as you start it. I don’t count that as a bad thing – it makes me want to listen to it on repeat for five hours straight and I never get bored of the songs. I’m about a hundred percent positive that I could listen to this magical record at any point in time and I would be ecstatic. It sounds timeless and classic, like it could have been made decades ago or decades from now, and I like that.
The songs that comprise Come of Age are some of my favourite songs in the world. I love the way musicians string together notes that can evoke countless emotions or transport you into a memory or a place or a time in your life. Whether a song soundtracked a flight to a new country or a drive to watch the sunset with your best friend or a night you spent in bed alone because that’s the way you like it, music has this insane ability that allows it to delve deep into your soul and remind you of all the good stuff of life. The Vaccines do that a lot for me. “I Always Knew” is my number one most cherished piece of music ever. The drums feel nostalgic and Justin’s voice is flooded with emotion and although it’s not attached to any specific moment or memory, it reminds me of all my favourite things every time I listen to it. It makes me think of the first and only time I saw The Vaccines, when all I wanted was for them to play that track and my heart swelled and the most genuine grin appeared on my face as Freddie’s fingers played the first familiar chords. It’s a song I often listen to in the middle of the night if I can’t sleep or when I’m sitting on my floor painting and I need as much inspiration as possible. If you listen to any song on this record, please let it be this one.
“Lonely World” is another track that makes it onto my list of preferred songs. It’s the very last song on Come of Age, and it closes out the album perfectly. It’s slow and raw and the lyrics are so real and personal that it almost feels like it was written and recorded without a thought – just pure emotion inked onto paper and transferred into a microphone and onto a computer. It’s a good one when you’re upset and you need something to cheer you up a little or to at least make things feel somewhat okay. It has a sort of duality that gives it the ability to instill you with multiple emotions all at once or on separate occasions. When you want to wallow, it allows you to wallow, and when you want to get over whatever’s bothering you, it allows you to do that, too.
To round out with a much more upbeat and danceable song, I’ll finish off my mini track reviews with “Teenage Icon.” And this song is possibly the biggest jam ever created. My mum, my closest sister, Abby, and I have had multiple out-of-tune, top-of-our-lungs sing-alongs to this track, and I doubt those will stop anytime soon. I’m telling you, this song doesn’t have an expiration date and it’ll never get old, despite the days when I listen to it on repeat for very extended periods of time and yell the lyrics to my ceiling. It’s just. So. Good. The chorus is amazing and the verses are amazing and the bridge is so much fun to sing along to. (Pro tip: put on your best bored angst-filled teenager face when you do this part and it makes it a thousand times more fun. Better yet, do that for the entire song.) To add to the amazingness, the music video for this tune features female doppelgangers of each member of The Vaccines, and they all look ridiculously cool and badass. Many of my outfits have been modelled after the girls in this video because they’re so incredible and the clip is so well done. Just go watch it.
The Vaccines do what they do incredibly well. Pete, the drummer of the band, once said that all music has healing powers, and every track on every single one of their records heals me in some way, shape, or form, whenever I need it. This one in particular holds an awful lot of those healing powers. I think I fell in love with it at a time in my life when I really, really, needed music to comfort me, and those memories and the joy that the record brings have stayed with me and are still present with each listen. And that’s a really incredible thing to feel and to have. It’s an album that brings up all the cheesy – but undeniably true – quotes about music taking away pain and erasing scars and making you feel whole again. I think it will always do all of those things for me. It feels amazing to know that I have it to hang onto.
As a whole, I count Come of Age as one of my favourite records as all time. Probably my number one favourite record of all time. The Vaccines know how to put an album together and although this one was created in the blink of an eye, it showcases their incredible musicianship and song writing abilities, as well as the sheer talent that every member of the band holds. I know I am ridiculously biased, but if you take forty-five minutes to listen to this album all the way through, I am a hundred and one percent certain that you’ll find something to love about it, whether it’s Pete’s insane drumming skills or Freddie’s smooth guitar transitions or Arni’s bass lines at the core of each song or Justin’s somewhat raspy but still wonderfully smooth vocals. This record, this band, they make me feel a whole lot of things. They provide an instant pick-me-up and they instill me with happiness, but they also manage to make me think and ponder all sorts of things and fall deep into nostalgia. It’s amazing what the right band can do for you. And even if The Vaccines don’t do all those things for you, at least they make really damn good music.