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The Tripwire: On The Vaccines, The Modern Hype Machine and The Beauty of the Three Minute Pop Song

Woe are the perils of the buzz band in this era of the internet hype machine. The Vaccines have been a fully formed band for less than a year. They made their U.S. debut just over a month ago. We just posted the lead single "If You Wanna" from their upcoming debut full length mere days ago. And yet it feels like backlash has begun before the train even pulled out of the station.


This isn't to say there's no upside of making web sparks. It's no small wonder that a band that didn't even have a website a few months ago sold out Bowery Ballroom. But it can't help but feel like the NME-anointed bands in particular must walk a particularly weary path these days. This is all well and good—maybe the Arctic Monkeys didn't, in fact, alter the course of history forever. Now every band following in similar footsteps seems to be met with a perplexing mix of high expectation and skepticism far before they even make it across the pond, and if these aren't met head-on they're often written off as underwhelming and cleared out for the next great hope. This may all feel a bit cynical, but I only stress it here because it can all feel particularly like missing the point with a band like The Vaccines.

If the premonitions are to be believed, within the coming months The Vaccines will bring Britrock back and/or save guitar rock. Whether you think those things were gone or needed saving in the first place, is of course up to you. They will for sure make plenty of headlines at SWSW next month. It will be argued whether they owe more to The Ramones, Jesus and Mary Chain or Joy Division. One day, before I've had my morning coffee, someone will even bring up Mumford and Sons. No one will win these arguments.

It's hard to argue with songs like these, though. Not in the sense that they are so overwhelming that they will supersede any doubt. Most of the Vaccines tracks that have made the rounds so far clock in at under three minutes. "Wreckin' Bar (Ra Ra Ra),” in particular, is a 1:28 guitar-driven sprint to the finish line, one that seems like it would be lined with cheap beer. "Post Break-Up Sex" slows things down slightly but still packs a lot of simple pop goodness into just under three minutes. Aforementioned lead album single "If You Wanna" uses the same time frame to combine these forces into an addicting melodic force the band has created to date. I defy you not to have it stuck in your head the rest of the week. Point being, this is not the closing we've reserved for bold proclamations about what this band will mean in some larger categorical sense. These tracks have led me to believe May's What Did You Expect From The Vaccines will be packed with at least 12 little hook-ridden explosions that will soundtrack a good number of my nights. If there's something wrong to be found in that, people may just be looking too hard.

The Tripwire: On The Vaccines, The Modern Hype Machine and The Beauty of the Three Minute Pop Song