Album Review: The Vaccines – English Graffiti

I mostly listen to music through headphones and whilst my current set are not studio quality, they’re decent enough to cope with any type of music and give a good listening experience.  So I was surprised when I hit play on English Graffiti, the third studio album from The Vaccines. It was so loud that I had to swiftly remove the headphones for fear of damaging my hearing, but checking the volume, it was on my normal setting.

Start again – still too loud. Turn down volume, that’s better. But wait –  it still sounds too loud, so loud in fact that the sound is all distorted. Only it’s not loud anymore, just distorted. Something is wrong with my headphones, try another set – just the same. Must be the device? Try another device – still the same.

After skipping through a few tracks I  came to the conclusion it must be a flawed download or something. Almost every track sounded heavily distorted, as if it had been recorded with the meters in the red the whole time. The bass is hard to hear, lost under a hail of distorted drums and guitars.

Here’s one of the worst offenders

I did a quick internet search to see if there was a known problem with the download. But it turns out it’s just the way it is. I did find this article where they say they wanted to make an album that would sound terrible in 10 years, but sorry guys it sounds terrible NOW!

I don’t know the first thing about recording music, so I don’t know whether it’s the production, engineering or something else that has made it sound this way. Whatever it is, the result is that the album sucks. Which is a real shame, because The Vaccines are a great energetic, melodic band with two great albums behind them. I’ve often gotten into a band after only discovering them at the third or fourth album and I’ve got to say that if this was my first experience of The Vaccines I would be in no hurry to listen to them again.

It sounds like there might be some good songs here too, I just can’t listen to it long enough to tell.

Score: 2 suns out 10 (1 for actually writing some decent songs and 1 for having the sheer balls to try something this stupid)


Here’s one they made earlier, which shows how good they CAN sound!

The best spot in the arena to watch the U2 U2ie tour is (Denver Night 1 report)…

Just a quick report from the road. U2’s U2ie tour rolled through Denver on June 6 and 7, and while already only 10 shows or so in, the performances are really running smooth and energetic, and by U2 standards fairly loose in the performances from the B-stage.

Having seen three U2ie shows so far from three different locations, I can say that for me at least being on the rail next to the B-stage right in front of where the band exits the “divider” is the best seat in the house if you don’t mind not seeing all of the big screen.

I’ve been to nearly 50 U2 shows over the years, and that spot is the closest proximity I’ve ever seen them from, close enough to have conversations with them during the B-stage sets.  You also see little things that you don’t see from the stands, like in Denver where Bono picked up a book copy of Dante’s Inferno and flipped it open and was reading it as he clambered up into the Divider. I think only the closest 20 people or so to that spot saw that sort of thing.

In terms of the musicianship, Larry (who in a shameless brag I’ll admit I got to meet briefly before the show, the last member of the band I’d never met) seems to be enjoying himself – well, at least by Larry standards – and Adam was his usual bemused, baronial self.

Edge seems to not be particularly enjoying himself and was extremely focused on his playing, and Bono seems looser and more spontaneous than usual.

The band is mixing in new or rarely played songs here and there in the set; from Denver the definite high-point to me was two songs in when they played a vibrant version of “Electric Co.” which I hadn’t heard live from them since the 80s.

Bono is also in excellent vocal form right now, even if he doesn’t seem 100% rehabilitated from the bike accident.  If you have any doubts about his vocals, see the video I “shot” for Every Breaking Wave below…