The Vaccines – Pick-Up Full of Pink Carnations

The Vaccines are back to their best on Pick-Up Full of Pink Carnations, an album full of singles

Album Review by Tara Hepburn | 12 Jan 2024
  • Vaccines – Pick-Up Full of Pink Carnations
Album title: Pick-Up Full of Pink Carnations
Artist: The Vaccines
Label: Thirty Tigers
Release date: 12 Jan

Frontman Justin Hayward-Young’s time on the West Coast of America shines out in the latest Vaccines album Pick-Up Full of Pink Carnations. These ten songs are laden with colourful sun-soaked American imagery, while Mark Twain, Edgar Allen Poe and Dennis Wilson are all name-checked. The album’s title, too, is a scrambled reference to a line from perhaps the most American of all American songs – Don McLean’s American Pie.

There is an undeniable cinema to the Californian landscape, a place where dreams can be both crushed and wildly realised. It provides the perfect backdrop for Hayward-Young’s deceptively simple lyrics which occupy a space of non-specific yearning: for the past, for the future, for the idea of a perfect person to share your life with. 'Maybe we should keep on dancing? / I feel like something good’s gonna happen' he muses on the wry and poppy Discount De Kooning (Last One Standing).

The album is The Vaccines' first since the departure of guitarist Freddie Cowan. Any fears that the group may have lost the infectious crowd-pleasing guitar riffs they're known for are quickly dispelled on guitar-heavy opener Sometimes, I Swear, a candid admission of loneliness over irresistible rock’n’roll drums. There is an attractive simplicity to this record, perhaps the band’s most straightforward since their debut. These are catchy feelings-forward songs with football chant-worthy choruses. It is, quite simply, an album full of singles.

Listen to: Lunar Eclipse, Heartbreak Kid, The Dreamer