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Review: The Vaccines – Combat Sports

The Vaccines are back with their fourth album Combat Sports, the follow up to 2015’s English Graffiti.

The Vaccines album cover for their fourth album, Combat Sports.
Combat Sports, the new album from The Vaccines is out now.

Combat Sports is an important album for The Vaccines. After English Graffiti didn’t pan out in the way it perhaps should have, the next album was going to be interesting to see what direction The Vaccines go in. Not to say that English Graffiti was a bad album but we know it wasn’t their best.

The record is littered with sharp hooks, catchy melodies and still has that tongue-in-cheek attitude that make The Vaccines so good. With moments that demand your attention immediately like lead single ‘I Can’t Quit’. With a stomping beat, a hook you’ll struggle to get out of your head and a chorus easy to sing along to, it’s an instant anthem.

Nightclub’ is another example of the band grabbing your attention. Opening with crashing cymbals and then into that infectious hook. Frontman Justin Young, is sharp as ever; “I wake up in the morning with the evening in my eye and by the time I get there it becomes apparent why, all the voices singing to me like some sorta choir, that you can’t fight fire fire with the feeling of desire…” the intense track is erratic and thrilling, making for the best moment on the record.

While the adrenaline-rushing songs like ‘Nightclub’ are great additions, songs such as ‘Your Love Is My Favourite Band’ and ‘Maybe (Luck of the Draw)’ show a more sincere side to The Vaccines. The dreamy guitars and synths on the latter add more romance to the song, capped off by Young singing “There’s nobody else like you… Maybe I want to spend my life with you”. Quite a change when you look back to 2011, on their debut when the whirlwind stories of heartbreak and sex (‘Post Break-Up Sex’) and supermodels and sex (‘Norgaard’) were the central themes.

One of the most intimate moments on the record comes in the little track ‘Young American’. As Young paints a picture of his intimate encounter with a “young American”, mentally mapping her body and the impression she left on him. Backed with a soft melody on the guitar, the interlude is like a lullaby and a tender addition to Combat Sports.

The album is capped off with ‘Rolling Stones’ and it seems fitting that it’s the final track on the record with it’s grand finalé aura about it. It’s a euphoric climax and is a stunning addition to their collection. Young displays his poetic prowess again, as he pleas; “I know you paid for the room with the view, but god only pointed at you, so when you skip to the front of the queue, you can tell them that this one’s for you, yeah tell them this one’s for you…”.

Wether it’s soaring guitars and thrilling hooks in ‘Surfing in the Sky’ or the warm and fuzzy atmosphere they generate like during ‘Someone to Lose’, it’s a mighty return for The Vaccines. It’s possibly the band’s best album to date.

Songs worth putting on repeat: ‘I Can’t Quit’, ‘Nightclub’ and ‘Rolling Stones

Verdict: 10/10

Combat Sports by The Vaccines is out now via Columbia Records.

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