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The Vaccines Return With a Grittier Sound

The British punks’ guitar-heavy album Combat Sports is an injection of pure adrenaline

Like its name suggests, The Vaccines’ latest album Combat Sports is a return to the adrenalized, hard-hitting anthems that first propelled the British rockers to stardom. Following their guitar-laden breakout hit “If You Wanna” in 2010, the band experimented with sounds and styles, releasing their follow-up album, English Graffiti, in 2015. While pop-infused and infectious, the album, according to frontman Justin Young, reflected an overly produced version of The Vaccines—a realization the band made while on tour in 2016. “The live shows have always been a really good pointer for us,” Young says. “It’s helped us figure out who we are and what direction we want to do in.”

The Vaccines

The Vaccines (Photo credit: Brad Elterman)

Following the departure of drummer Pete Robertson in late 2016, The Vaccines were forced in a different direction entirely. “Pete jumped ship which is fine. But we tried to figure out how best to move forward,” says Young “The most exciting solution was to bring in fresh energy and try to remind ourselves why it’s so fun being in this band.” Following the arrival of musicians Tim Lanham and Yoann Intonti, The Vaccines set out to make an album with a renewed sense of unity. “Every album you make is reactive; you’re reacting to something. You’re refining the process each time,” he says of going into the writing process for Combat Sports. “A really big thing for us was that we wanted a record that felt right live.”

Combat Sports delivers foot-stomping, angst-driven bangers like “I Can’t Quit” as well as playfully pop tracks “Your Love Is My Favourite Band”—a range of sounds that Young says represents the variety of his own experiences and emotions. “I always write from a personal place: I write about romance, lust, anger, confusion, frustration, guilt—all the juicy stuff,” he says. “Sometimes I end up freaking out afterwards thinking that maybe I shouldn’t have ben that honest.”

With their adrenaline-infused album, The Vaccines are gearing up to share their rediscovered rock ‘n’ roll edge at festivals this summer—including Lollapalooza, Reading & Leeds and more to be announced.