The Vaccines have always had a knack for announcing their presence with songs that bury themselves deep into your brain and refuse to leave. Debut track ‘Wreckin’ Bar (Ra Ra Ra)’ introduced them in 2011 with a rousing whirl of arms-aloft anthemics and fizzing guitars. The nihilistic ‘No Hope’ reintroduced them for album two, ‘The Vaccines Come Of Age’, a relatable, self-deprecating ode to being young and directionless.
Welcome, then, to the London quartet’s third album, ‘English Graffiti’, ushered in by the urgent, attitude-rife ‘Handsome’. It crackles and hums with energy and ambition, frontman Justin Young’s lyrics rattling off his tongue with barely a pause for breath. Like their previous two albums, it’s knowingly dumb, tongue lodged in cheek as Justin hollers lines like “I’m as awful as they come, oh what a pity / So I thank the lord above that I am pretty”.
There’s subtle clever twists throughout, like when the singer follows up his claims of “everybody else I know is touching me with misery as if it was contagious” with pleas to “come to me and promise me you’ll catch me if you can.” Matched with Pete Robertson’s thumping drums and Justin’s swaggering, sarcasm-tinged swipe – “Well, what a stroke of luck that I am charming” – it’s the perfect soundtrack to fronting out your problems with a cocksure confidence and surly strut.
Pick up the new issue of NME out on Wednesday (January 21) and you’ll find the band talking up their third record as “future sounding” and “exploratory”. ‘Handsome’ might not be some alien missive that will make you reassess everything you thought you knew about The Vaccines but it is an absolute stonker of a song – easily one of their finest moments and guaranteed to have you salivating to hear more.
The Vaccines will perform live at the NME Awards 2015 with Austin, Texas. The ceremony takes place at O2 Academy Brixton, London on February 18. Tickets are available now from NME.COM/tickets.