It is not news to anyone that The Vaccines are my favourite band. They have been for nearly six years, and this is not a fact that’s going to change anytime soon. I wear their merchandise as if it’s surgically attached to my person, their records exist permanently on my turntable, and when I was eighteen I got the name of one of their songs tattooed on my bicep. They are the longest and happiest relationship I have ever had. I’m stuck with them for life.
Because I am so heavily invested in this band, Wednesday afternoon found me sitting cross-legged on my bed, wearing my oldest band t-shirt, and anxiously listening to BBC Radio1 for the premiere of their newest track. I have done this multiple times, from the debut of ‘Melody Calling’ to the first play of ‘Handsome,’ and at this point it’s pretty much a sacred ritual. I feel weird if I don’t get to perform it at least once every few years. I was in my element.
I expected ‘I Can’t Quit’ to be good. I love everything The Vaccines have ever done, and at this point I automatically send praise and adoration their way whenever they release something new. What I didn’t expect was to hear it and have my entire world shift into a space that is largely better than the one I was in before. There is something indescribable about the return of your favourite band, but this was that feeling multiplied by a thousand.
The track marks The Vaccines getting back to what got them started – catchy pop tracks less than three minutes long with lyrics that you can’t help but belt out at the top of your lungs – but it’s also a step forward into territory that somehow feels brand new. The song is inherently different to anything they’ve done before, as if the band is moving forward and surrendering to the music the universe is telling them to make while also fulfilling their own desires to evolve as artists. I knew The Vaccines could write a perfect song, but this is even beyond that.
The Vaccines have always offered me a reflection of myself. What Did You Expect from The Vaccines? feels like the perfect representation of the emotions I find myself flitting between. It fluctuates as I fluctuate, lives and breathes and lets itself be whatever it is at that moment. Come of Age gave me an album full of angst-ridden tracks that got me through the most angst-ridden parts of my adolescence. When I’m fed up or in a bad mood or confused out of my mind by where my life is heading, it’s the first record I think to put on. English Graffiti is experimental while still sounding distinctly like The Vaccines, and it’s a nice reminder that doing something new is not necessarily a bad thing. Although ‘I Can’t Quit’ is only the first track we’re hearing from Combat Sports, it’s already continuing the trend of mirroring my being back to me. I entered the year with the fiery spirit of determination bubbling up under my skin, and the new track is a three-minute repetition of a mantra. I really can’t quit, and apparently neither can The Vaccines.
I realize that I am overwhelmingly biased. Nothing I say has any basis in reality, because all my thoughts are coming straight from my heart and bypassing my mind on their way out. But sometimes a feeling is all you need to go off, and ‘I Can’t Quit’ makes me feel unstoppable and free and in alignment with everything around me. I have been listening to it on repeat for forty-eight straight hours, and I will likely choose to continue this habit for the rest of the foreseeable future. What I know for sure is that this is a spectacular track, and my excitement for the release of the full record only increases as time goes on. The Vaccines have gotten somewhere really good, and I want to be there too.