The Vaselines – V for Vaselines

written by: October 5, 2014
Album-Cover-for-The-Vaselines-V-for-Vaselines Release Date: October 7, 2014


Alternative rock/indie pop act The Vaselines is back with its junior album V for Vaselines, and bound to grab first-time listeners by the collar and lure them in with agile, melodious sounds. The album, written by innovative lead singers Eugene Kelly and Frances McKee, features melancholy themes and calm vocals, producing the smoothest rock ‘n’ roll. Though The Vaselines had a rocky, uncertain beginning and lengthy history, Kelly and McKee continue to surprise fans. V for Vaselines exposes the sensitive sides of these artists through passionate lyrics, showcasing the intense chemistry between the two talented musicians, hopefully persuading The Vaselines to stay in the music industry this time.

Hailing from Glasgow, Scotland, The Vaselines came together in 1986, put out its first record Dum-Dum in 1989 on 53rd and 3rd Records, and proceeded to break up that same week. Though, the Vaselines are undoubtedly intriguing—even Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain described Kelly and McKee as his “favorite songwriters in the whole world” and covered three of the band’s songs. Flash-forward to 2014 with the fresh lineup, including Kelly and McKee, guitarist Scott Patterson, bassist Graeme Smillie, and drummer Michael McGaughrin, and there’s a group that, despite differences, can come together and create titillating music.

V for Vaselines features condensed drums and hazy guitars, authenticating a punk energy sure to make listeners bob their heads and practice their air-guitar skills.

Correspondingly, the lonesome bass and expressive, intertwining vocals of Kelly and McKee make for a poignant album. The lyrics give off the same kind of sentiments, with plenty of “love gone wrong” tracks, including duet songs “Crazy Lady” and “Single Spies.” These specific tracks are great to listen to during low-points and after terrible break-ups because Kelly and McKee share themselves through their voices, and it’s clear they’ve been through similar events. On “Single Spies,” one of the more direct songs on the record, Kelly and McKee sing, “Stop denying that it meant nothing/You’re lying,” followed by a suave, easy-going guitar solo.

There’s certainly a Ramones feel to a lot of the tracks that give off a fast, punky ambiance, though many revert back to sitting-alone-in-your-room-and-wishing-your-love-life-didn’t-suck tones. This makes for a great mix of distressed, powerful, and sometimes-radiant music.

“False Heaven” is about a relationship falling apart. McKee has the lead while Kelly’s voice blends perfectly in the background, followed by a soft, crisp guitar solo. McKee’s vocals are so charming, though her range is put to test with lower notes, but she passes undeniably. This track and others such as “Single Spies” confirm the overall maturity the band gained over the past couple decades. The band begins to stray away from the fast-paced vocals and hard drums showcased back in 1989’s “Dum-Dum.” As McKee and Kelly grew older and wiser, their musical outlooks did too.

It’s no surprise V for Vaselines’ lyrics translate as witty, as audiences have consistently been charmed by the band’s seductive sound and entertaining stage banter.

On “Number One Crush,” Kelly and McKee simultaneously sing, “Brains exploding/Emotion overloading/Being with you/Kills my IQ.” This cheeky attitude adds a sense of weariness to the lyrics, which is seen more notably on the album’s closer “Last Half Hour,” with chorus lyrics, “Final curtain/End of the show.” This doesn’t come off “lazy” per-se, but it was almost predictable, which subtracted from the final impressions of the album.

V for Vaselines’s surfy, intoxicating sound makes an amazing impact on first-time listeners, and promises hope for delighted older fans as they reminisce on why they enjoy The Vaselines so much. There are significant differences comparing the band’s older sound to the new and improved, which is inevitable. This shift can either harm or help them, and in this case, The Vaselines’ aged sound can only get better from here.

The Vaselines – V for Vaselines tracklist:

  1. “High Tide Low Tide”
  2. “The Lonely L.P.
  3. “Inky Lies”
  4. “Crazy Lady
  5. “Single Spies
  6. “One Lost Year”
  7. “Earth Is Speeding”
  8. “False Heaven”
  9. “Number One Crush
  10. “Last Half Hour”