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Dan Baker

CD of The Week

Week of 9/20/21

    The Vaccines - Back In Love City (AWAL)

    After 11 years and four albums, The Vaccines have injected their fifth album with a loose concept that takes the listener on a liberating adventure to "Love City," a futuristic metropolis of hope and romance. Inspired by sci-fi, spaghetti westerns, and our current digital era, Back in Love City traverses new sonic ground for the band, fully embracing indie dance-rock, power pop, and glam with flourishes of brass and retro guitar noodling (surf, Mexican). The band started recording the album with Swedish songwriter/producer Daniel Ledinsky (Carly Rae Jepsen) in El Paso, TX, just before the pandemic; a beautiful city fraught with crises and a prime subject matter for the escapism on display through the album.

    The title track bustles with an infectious energy and some of lead singer Justin Hayward-Young's clever witticisms; "When I exorcise my demons, I just take them to the gym." The cinematic musical themes shine throughout much of the record. "Alone Star," "El Paso," and "Paranormal Romance" all incorporate traditional western guitars and "Wanderlust" adds some Mexican horns. "Headphones Baby" is a more traditional Vaccines song, an earworm that continues to show off their love affair with American pop culture, a trend that continues with the love letter "Heartland." Who would've thought that five Brits could so thoughtfully express what many of us have struggled to remember ("I'm not giving up my love for you America")?

    "XCT" and "Jump Off The Top" have an energetic intensity reminiscent of Matt and Kim and most of the album buzzes by in a flash, but occasionally the tempo slows down ("Bandit," "Pink Water Pistols") for some romantic reflection. Overall, Back in Love City is less a departure and more of an expansion for The Vaccines, evident in their recently broadened lineup. While some musical artists have let world sorrow fuel their recent output, The Vaccines have chosen to escape the ills of our current situation and invited us to join them in the utopia known as Love City. I'll see you there.
    Review by Dave Lindquist

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