Although there’s never been anything technically wrong with The Vaccines, it’s a legitimate argument to say that they sound like they’re aiming to please a demographic interested in the TV programme ‘Skins’ and going to milkshake bars in their free periods, rather than revising for their A Levels. Despite successfully pleasing said demographic for the past three years with their albums What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? and Come Of Age, clearly The Vaccines have decided to mature like a good cheddar, and have come back with a generally more dour sound for their Melody Calling EP.
The title for the first track, ‘Everybody’s Gonna Let You Down’, pretty much epitomises the whole song. At first the intro hints at the promise of a nineties revival grunge type thing, however, that quickly dissipates with the arrival of an unfortunately mediocre riff and repetitive, semi-suicidal lyrics. It would seem that the boys weren’t the happiest of bunnies when they wrote this one: ‘Someday, in some way, everybody’s gonna let you down /Everybody’s gonna let you down / I knew that you would / Cause everybody’s gonna let you down’, and so on, and so forth.
The title track, ‘Melody Calling’, continues to be a bit of a downer compared to vintage Vaccines, though it’s a definite grower. Again, the lyrics are a bit repetitive; just because the song is called ‘Melody Calling’ doesn’t mean you’re under some sort of legal obligation to use that phrase every other line. That said, there is a fun echo effect going on with the riff which seems to be channeling Hank Marvin of the Shadows, which is different, but definitely not a bad thing. It really is quite catchy.
At the beginning of August, Huw Stevens declared the ‘Do You Want A Man’ remix to be his ‘hottest record in the world’ whilst he was covering Zane Lowe’s Radio One slot. Ironic, considering the John Hill and Rich Costey remix is far more irritating than the original. There’s way too much going on and it starts to grate on one’s nerves pretty quickly. The original, however, is entirely pleasant on the ears. There’s a nice lo-fi crackle over the whole track which gives the impression of listening to a record player whilst the whole vibe is cheerful and sunny. It makes you want to have a boozy picnic on a beach. The track manages to recall the glory day of The Beach Boys without being cheesy; this is what you would expect from The Vaccines and it is certainly the EP’s best offering.
To be honest, the utter misery of ‘Everybody’s Gonna Let You Down’ puts a bit of a dampener on the whole EP, despite the individual merit of ‘Melody Calling’ and ‘Do You Want A Man’. The phrase ‘don’t give up your day job’ seems pretty relevant here: nobody does lame, guilty pleasure crowd pleasers like The Vaccines; Melody Calling is not their best work.