Cast your eyes across this weeks UK top forty singles and album sales charts and it’s very easy to draw the conclusion that as a commercial force, rock music and in particular new indie rock music is commercially obsolete. Back at the start of the year we asked the question of what had happened to the fashionableness of its sound (here) and our conclusion was that for the time being it was out for a long lunch and possibly dessert as well.
So when The Vaccines – a band who have been much blogged, championed by the NME, Radio 1’s Zane Lowe and featured on the BBC’s Later With Jools Holland programme – take to the stage at Brighton Audio, it would seem grossly unfair to accuse them of selling out and doing things purely for commercial gain by choosing the route of rock ‘n’ roll oblivion. Such accusations would seem even harsher when consideration is given to their lead singer Jay Jay Pistolet (real name Justin James Hayward-Young). Pistolet was once associated with the new folk scene that has spawned the commercial successes of Mumford & Sons and Laura Marling. The last time we came across Pistolet in Brighton he was supporting those two plus Noah & The Whale just a few hundred yards down the road in a university theatre, yet with The Vaccines he seems to have musically turned his back on the genre – preferring something else based in tradition – but this time a tradition that harks back to rock 'n' roll from yesteryear with reference points being The Strokes to The Ramones to The Beach Boys.
But accepting that such things are almost inevitable for a new band then The Vaccines have enough growling edge, layers of noise and bounce-a-long guitar guts to stick two fingers up at the last few years of music and turn things back into reverse direction. Whether this is a good or bad thing and whether it’s just an example of rock music hitting middle age and creeping towards its pension book only punters and future history will be able to decide. For now though, The Vaccines are surfing the wave - the splash they made in Brighton was enjoyable enough - without soaking us through.