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‘Combat Sports’ review: The Vaccines rediscover their guitars

The Vaccines' fourth album, "Combat Sports," is on

The Vaccines' fourth album, "Combat Sports," is on Columbia Records. Credit: Columbia

THE VACCINES

“Combat Sports”

BOTTOM LINE Rediscovering their artistic flame (and their guitars!).

When The Vaccines burst onto the British music scene in 2011, they offered guitar-driven catchy power-pop so hard-charging it made you wonder when singer Justin Young found time to breathe.

After drifting away from that for a couple of albums, The Vaccines seem ready to bust down the barricades in the name of rock and roll again on their fourth album, “Combat Sports” (Columbia) — at least sometimes.

“Surfing in the Sky” recaptures their “Wreckin’ Bar” roar well, especially as Young wonders with a snarl, “How many light bulbs does it take to change the mood?” Between the galloping beat from new drummer Yoann Intonti and guitarist Freddie Cowan’s raging riffs, The Vaccines create one of 2018’s rock highlights.

It’s not a pace they can maintain, though the Strokes-ish bounciness of “Out on the Street” comes close. And the latter-day New Order dreaminess of “Maybe (Luck of the Draw)” is charming in its own, more laid-back way, as is the stomping “I Can’t Quit.”

The Vaccines fall short, though, when they go for synthy and clever, like the chugging “Your Love Is My Favourite Band,” which sounds like the rock they’d rebel against.

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