The Vaccines – Back in Love City

The kings of indie-rock medicine are back, with an antidote that is worth the wait. Stick with us and the latest from The Vaccines, "Back in Love City".

Antivirus. Immunization. Protection. Vaccination. It seems like something that has snuck into our lives in the last year and a half. From confinement to confinement, telework to telework, our lives seem so far removed from that reality we imagined at the beginning of this decade.

Because what we really wanted was to be with our friends. Going to a thousand and one concerts. Dancing till the wee hours. Celebrating, smiling, and travelling to the other corner of the world.

Everything that we considered normal seemed, until recently, very distant. But the reality is that the world has reinvented itself – and one of those hopes for our future has undoubtedly been brought about by the vaccine.

While we can’t dance in that incredible dance hall that brought us happiness until recently, any corner serves as an excuse to take a few more expressive steps.

One, two three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten. The Vaccines are back and promise an antidote that will not leave anyone indifferent. Here’s their suggestion for getting even more immunised against all the evils of the world.


Back in Love City cover

The Vaccines aren’t exactly new to the scene, but in 2011 they transformed the concept of indie-rock from one end to the other. Because the point is not to release an album worthy of that style but to stay in the limelight after a career of ten years, with albums, concerts and a distinct presence in the music industry.

Talking to friends, they’re unanimous: most of them have a physical record of the band on their shelves. Yes, in Portugal there are a lot of people buying records and The Vaccines are there for everyone to share with friends, children, grandchildren, whatever you want to call them.

The West London band is currently made up of Justin Young, Freddie Cowan, Árni Árnason, Timothy Lanham and Yoann Intonti.

And it is inevitable to talk about Bombay Bicycle Club, Courteeners, Everything Everything, Mystery Jets, Razorlight, The Maccabees, The Last Shadow Puppets, The Libertines or The Wombats when we chat about this kind of genre.

We passed through What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? (2011), where classics like “Post Break-Up Sex”, “Nørgaard” or “Wreckin’ Bar (Ra Ra Ra)” make us dance frantically, Come of Age (2012), more mature and composed, where we shake our heads to the sound of “Teenage Icon”, “I Always Knew” (an anthem of summer, happiness and pure love, where the joy of finding our soul mate is truly genuine) or even Bad Mood, with a music video that still makes us laugh until its last frame, English Graffiti (2015), and it’s more introspective tone where “Want You So Bad” comes to mind and, more recently, Combat Sports (2018), a mixture of everything that was done before – and that worked so well live.

Yes, live.

The Vaccines last performances in Portugal go back to July and September 2018. While on the first they headlined the alternative stage of the Super Bock Super Rock festival, on the latter they opened for Imagine Dragons. All this in Lisbon, at the Pavilhão de Portugal and Altice Arena, in Parque das Nações – a mythical area, prepared wire-to-wire for Expo 98.

At the time they were touring “Combat Sports“, their 2018 studio album.

At a time when we have so little live music, remember is definitely the best medicine. And I won’t deny it: I went to the festival that day for the British band and the French kings of electronic music, Justice.

The hype I transmitted at the time to those who went with me was that it would be a memorable show. And they didn’t disappoint: Pavilhão de Portugal, an outdoor venue, was on fire. Between mosh-pits, beer and lots and lots of energy from Young and his muchachos, happiness was in the air – and the band itself was definitely in symbiosis with the audience in front of them. I left dead, but with a smile from ear to ear, with so much nostalgia and longing for a beautiful and good live concert.

Three years have passed. And if talking about vaccines for COVID-19 seems a routine theme nowadays, adding to that dose an ultimate of good and beautiful indie-rock is, without a doubt, the cure for any ailment that hangs in the air.

And that’s what The Vaccines bring us this week: their fifth studio album – and a reinvention of those that won’t leave any listener indifferent.

Back In Love City is retro – and what’s retro always brings a real nostalgia to our minds, right?

It’s with it that we remember floppy disks, that Prince of Persia that had 1MB and was gigantic at the time. Of Malcolm in the Middle, Back to the Future, VHS and all those maximum clichés that only the MTV generation remembers.

There are thirteen themes, separated by forty-five minutes.

And it’s with the song that gives the album its name that we continue on this retro trip over the crazy last century. “Back in Love City” has a bit of everything: sentimental lyrics, a rhythm that takes us back to the most daring VHS tapes, and a phrase that won’t get out of our heads: “So we’re saving up, now we’re back in love city”.

If we wanted to add retro to The Vaccines as we know them, we have “Alone Star” and “Headphones Baby”: it could be 2011 and the Brits’ first album, but it’s 2021 and we can still ride them as if all this crossing was navigated yesterday. Rock on, definitely.

And it is with a tremendous feeling that we arrive at “Wanderlust”. The bass coupled with the drums brings extraordinary power to this journey, with a cowboy touch along the way. And suddenly we are faced with a duel, which ends in a bang: it’s not bullets, but the instruments all in unison produce an elastic effect that is explosive to our ears. Delicious.

We are also entitled to love – and it is with some virtual reality glasses that we simulate a real “Paranormal Romance”. We feel like we’re in a game, with all lives up to date and our level as high as possible. The pace is epic – and that’s why we made this traverse in our heads.

Through “El Paso” we navigate a truly dreamy nostalgia, inspired by a pre-pandemic adventure by Justin Young, where he swapped his life with a stranger via a house swap app. He strolled through El Paso as if he were the other person – and that other person as Justin Young, through London. The tone of the music sounds sepia – and it’s very pretty.

To bounce until no more, we have “Jump Off The Top” and “XCT” – with permanent electricity that just begs for an ultimate party with the band in front of us.

From the party, we turn to “Bandit”, an epic rock of pure acclaim, where the lyrics allow you to get wherever you want: “Name a more iconic duo // Waited all my life for you”.

Between introspection and a bawl to make the most punks in the industry blush, “People’s Republic of Desire”, and it’s impossible not to be indifferent to lines like “We’re guns for hire, in the people’s republic of desire”.

“Savage” wants to be cool, and that’s really the best word to describe it. It’s heavy, with a permanent and unavoidable guitar that only allows us to shake our heads.

We close with a golden key and two calmer and very beautiful songs: “Heart Land” and “Pink Water Pistols” are just that, the perfect songs for that extraordinary sunset and where we are hugging the people we love most in our lives.

It’s Indie. It’s Rock. It’s The Vaccines. And this trip to the bottom of our hearts has left us even more in love and connected to the British band. A timeless record, that leaves us immunized against any ailment that tries to catch us in the future. A WtMM recommendation.

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