Post-punk revival icons The Vaccines are back again with their fourth release, full of that raw sound that saw them shoot to stardom way back in 2011, but does Combat Sports offer anything new?
From the outset you’re struck with a real sense of déjà vu. The album’s opening track, ‘Put It on a T-Shirt,’ falls straight back into the pattern of old, with heavy, on-beat drums, and bass guitar. Certainly not all that innovative and after three or four of these similar songs it soon becomes monotonous. Combat Sports is reminiscent of the old Vaccines, but essentially lacks the soaring festival anthems. It’s much of the same but without as many concrete ideas. Lyrically, the album can be entertaining, but disappointingly a lot of the music itself feels thrown together, as if the band were in a rush while playing.
There are certainly some tracks that don’t fall into the quintessential Vaccines bracket. Unfortunately, many of these sound like cheap rip-offs of The Strokes (‘Someone to Lose’), Kaiser Chiefs (‘Nightclub’), MGMT (‘Young American’), and Stereophonics (‘Take It Easy’). Even José González isn’t safe; just listen to the chord progression on ‘Rolling Stones’.
You can easily sympathise with The Vaccines here. Their attempts to break the mould with their last album English Graffiti were met with reviews of mediocrity, so now, in a panicked retreat to their initial sound, we’re left with something that feels safe and unremarkable. You could happily tap your toes to it, but it is not very challenging music, and it won’t leave a lasting impression.
In a nutshell: Same old Vaccines, but watered down and unexciting.