The Vaccines like to work quickly. The group recorded its debut album less than a year after forming, and filled it with short bursts of exhilarating garage-pop. The music has a simple formula, and the execution is pretty straightforward, but don’t be mistaken: The Vaccines aren’t working in the spirit of the old punk bands that used to empower those around them by creating music that seemingly anyone could make. This London quartet’s less-is-more approach wouldn’t sound nearly as impressive in lesser hands. It’s the product of surprisingly thoughtful songwriting, a refined sense of knowing that sometimes the finest pop songs don’t need all of their allotted three minutes, and a frontman with an engaging, versatile voice that works well whether he’s feeling moody, vulnerable, or aggressive.
What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? blasts off with “Wreckin’ Bar (Ra Ra Ra)” (clocking in at 82 seconds) and “If You Wanna,” two singles that show off what The Vaccines do best: In service of instantly catchy tunes that meet somewhere between Kaiser Chiefs and The Strokes, drums are pounded, guitars are furiously strummed, and Justin Young steers the proceedings with a “ra ra ra ra” here, a “hey hey hey hey” there, and cut-to-the-chase lines like this one delivered to an ex: “Well, I don’t want to see you with another guy / but the fact is that I may.” The speedy songs hang on the biggest hooks, but The Vaccines do a good job of turning up the drama during their more restrained moments, resulting in a rare species: the well-rounded pop-jugular album.