Album Archives: ‘English Graffiti’ by The Vaccines

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As I write this, I’m listening to this glorious record for the first time in what feels like months, but is probably more like weeks. And it’s still incredible. A year after its release, it still makes my heart race and to be quite honest I currently have butterflies in my stomach. File those under “Things My Favourite Band Makes Me Feel.” English Graffiti is a thing of beauty. It honestly feels like an art piece (maybe because it is), like something priceless and beyond value. I adore it, I want to share it with everyone I’ve ever known and yell about it from the top of that giant building in Dubai and maybe the CN tower. And I’m terrified of heights, so that’s saying a lot.

English Graffiti was a long time coming. It arrived nearly three years after The Vaccines had released their sophomore album Come of Age, and the wait was agonizing. Worth it, but agonizing. It’s a defining sort of album, the kind where you can hear a band really come into their own and put out a record that’s a pretty far cry from their previous releases. It’s pop-tinged and flawlessly produced, it’s sparkly and it feels brand new every time you play it. It’s thick and layered and enveloping. I’m not really sure if I could ask for anything else from an album.

At this point I’m struggling to come up with anything to say other than “this record is so freaking good you need to drop everything and listen to it right this second,” but I’ll try and elaborate in some way. English Graffiti is full of rocky pop hits and smooth, slow ballads. There are songs in there that make you feel like you could dance for three hours straight and never be happier. There are also songs that are perfect for doing that thing where you stare out the car window and pretend your life is a movie and you’re the saddest person in the whole world. Somehow that all works together and forms a remarkably cohesive unit.

When it comes to my favourite tracks on the album, I’m pretty darn tempted to tell you that every single song on the record is my favourite, which is true to some degree, but I know I can narrow it down more than that. We’ll start with “20/20,” which is a jam and a half. It’s one of the more upbeat songs on the record, and it might just be the catchiest. It’s about letting go of someone who’s done you wrong and letting them know in the most obvious way possible that you’re done with them. With lyrics like “living in your shadow has been too dramatic” and “you can cut the cord on me but I got plenty,” I honestly feel like it might as well have been made for me. Listening to it is a freeing experience, and you should all try it out.

“Denial” is the kind of track that deserves a dance routine. I feel so strongly about this that once I tweeted the band and told them that and Freddie responded with “let’s talk.” It still hasn’t happened, but I haven’t lost hope quite yet. The song has got a thrumming bass line and some cool synth noises that I don’t really know how to describe and when the chorus hits you won’t know what to do with yourself. It’s kind of an acceptance of change but a plea for things to remain the same. You want to have a conversation but you’re also warming up to the idea of just letting things go. Overall it’s just a great track.

The last track I’ll gush about is “Give Me a Sign.” How I’ve managed to narrow an eleven-track album down to three I’ll never know, but I’m not going to question it. I love this song to the point that I have the title tattooed on my arm – that’s dedication, people. It honestly sounds like it could have been a One Direction song, but don’t let that discourage you from listening to it. It’s an incredible track. The verses are slow and effortless and the chorus is a bit of a slap in the face, but in a good way. Justin goes out with his vocals, and the lyrics are honest and empowering. Even just singing along to it makes me feel powerful, like I could take on the world. I think that’s a good enough reason to listen to a track.

Although I’ve only spoken about three tracks, every single song on the album is good. I feel like I could write sonnets about English Graffiti just because I have so much love for it. It’s glittery and magical and it instantly brightens my mood. It’s impeccably crafted, it’s polished beyond belief, and, although I’m biased, it’s a demonstration of true musical artistry. It’s a record that I can always come back to, even if I haven’t listened to it for months, and still be confident that I’ll remember all the words and love it just as much. It just makes me feel good. What more could you want?

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