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Album Review: Cosy Karaoke, Vol. 1 – EP (March 5, 2021) – The Vaccines

By Evan Cardinal, Albright College ‘21

Album Review: Cosy Karaoke, Vol. 1 – EP (March 5, 2021) – The Vaccines

The Context – With their swaggering surf punk and power pop compositions, West London’s The Vaccines have been indie rock darlings since their formation in 2009. The rock outfit joined the annuls of Britain’s extensive music history after the release of What Did You Expect from The Vaccines? became the best-selling debut album in the U.K., peaking at #4 on the charts in 2011. Lead vocalist and songwriter Justin Young followed up exceptional debut tracks like “Post Break-Up Sex,” “If You Wanna,” and “Nørgaard” with 2012’s British chart-topping sophomore album Come of Age.

Dave Fridmann (worked with the likes of Weezer, The Flaming Lips, MGMT, and Tame Impala) co-produced The Vaccines’ third studio album English Graffiti (2015)—a departure from their previous sound that ultimately alienated the record from commercial success despite critical praise. Young and The Vaccines returned to their boisterous, garage rock roots with 2018’s Combat Sports LP but could not replicate their early 2010s success.

The Content – “Funnel of Love”—a psychedelic rendition of Wanda Jackson’s rockabilly staple—brings a slick psychedelic groove to The Vaccines’ 2021 EP release. An echoing vocal filter, pulsating base, and synth keys conjures a Pink Floydian sound on the band’s cover of “No One Knows” by the Queens of the Stone Age. Young and company reimagine music from the American South again with a sexy and soothing version of Kacey Musgraves’ “High Horse.”

“Telstar,” Joe Meek’s 1962 instrumental track for The Tornados, undergoes a sharper remastering from The Vaccines’ Freddie Cowan (lead guitar) and Árni Árnason (bass). Buffalo Springfield’s anti-war song “For What It’s Worth (Stop, Hey What’s That Sound)” is brought into the 21st century with Young’s 70s-esque vocals and guitar-laden production. “Fire” from fellow indie singer/songwriter Katie Crutchfield of Waxahatchee is the laid-back closer on the record.

The Skinny – The Vaccines reenter the alternative music Zeitgeist with their latest EP Cosy Karaoke, Vol. 1. Living up to its name, Young and the band deliver a soothing and clean collection of covers that almost emulate an early Phoenix sound on the record. Regarding the sonic configuration, listeners hear a completely revamped, softer side of the often-raucous Vaccines briefly touched upon on English Graffiti. The overall “Vaccination” process of the eclectic covers on Cosy Karaoke, Vol. 1 is a fresh and exciting lounge-like direction the band hopefully will explore more in future releases.

The Rating – 6.8/10

Cosy Karaoke, Vol. 1 – EP

  1. Funnel of Love
  2. No One Knows
  3. High Horse
  4. Telstar
  5. For What It’s Worth
  6. Fire