The Vaccines – “Minimal Affection” (Stereogum Premiere)

Angsty Brit dreamboats are a foundational part of rock and roll’s history, and the Vaccines continue that legacy with relish. They took three years to themselves after 2012’s Come Of Age — a #1 album in the UK — and return this year with the jittery English Graffiti. It’s their third album and their first to be recorded in the U.S. — they laid it down with Dave Fridmann (Tame Impala, the Flaming Lips) and Cole MGN (Ariel Pink, Beck) at Tarbox Road Studios in upstate New York. Previously we’ve heard two tracks: the infectious “Handsome” and the dark, explosive “Dream Lover.” Today we’re premiering another new song from the album called “Minimal Affection.” Less angular than the first two singles, “Minimal Affection” trades gruff sarcasm for a moodier, rounder sound that’s rife with longing. High-pitched, squiggly synths almost elevate this to pop song status, but Justin Hayward-Young’s signature sardonic tone rides easy over a rumbling bass. “How am I supposed to hear you calling/ If I can’t hear a word you say?” he sings, and though it sounds nonsensical, this line hits me deep. We’re so busy listening for a phone to ring or a notification to blare that we forget to listen to people when they speak! Hayward-Young is parsing post-technology communication and noting how it’s become a barrier that blocks actual connection. This commentary on loneliness and interpersonal disconnect comes wrapped in a Beach Boys-worthy chorus of “ooohs” and rolling guitars, making it an easier pill to swallow. I liked the first two songs, but this is far and away the best thing we’ve heard off their new album yet. Listen below.

Here’s the full English Graffiti tracklist:

01 “Handsome”
02 “Dream Lover”
03 “Minimal Affection”
04 “20/20″
05 “(All Afternoon) In Love”
06 “Denial”
07 “Want U So Bad”
08 “Radio Bikini”
09 “Maybe I Could Hold You”
10 “Give Me A Sign”
11 “Undercover”

English Graffiti is out 5/26 via Columbia. Pre-order it here.

Tags: The Vaccines