Album Review: The Vaccines – Pick-Up Full Of Carnations

5/5

The Vaccines, torchbearers for British guitar rock, continue the tradition with their sixth studio album, Pick-Up Full of Pink Carnations. It’s everything you would expect from The Vaccines—’60s-inspired guitar pop filtered through a new wave lens, with an equal mix of jubilation and wistfulness. However, this record is a bit of a departure from previous releases in its delivery and message. 

The title comes from a misremembered lyric in Don McLean’s “American Pie” (“I was a lonely teenage broncin’ buck / With a pink carnation in a pick-up truck”). Pick-Up Full of Pink Carnations was written during Justin Young’s time living in Los Angeles. Young was experiencing disappointment with the American Dream and loss with the departure of original guitarist Freddie Cowan along with gratitude for the people and places he’s loved and a dash of hope for good measure. 

The Vaccines’ lineup looks a bit different now as well. Touring member Timothy Lanham took the reins as the new lead guitarist and the addition of Yoann Intonti on drums adds more texture to the talented Young and bassist Árni Árnason. They teamed up with producer Andrew Wells (Halsey, Phoebe Bridgers) at his home studio in LA resulting in 10 magically crafted, lush, infectious tracks. 

The quartet has previewed four songs: “Love To Walk Away,” “Heartbreak Kid,” “Lunar Eclipse,” and “Sometimes I Swear,”  ahead of the album’s release on January 12 via Thirty Tigers.

Honestly, all 10 tracks could be singles. “Sunkissed” is sheer perfection. Young channels a Brian Wilson in a way that would make The Beach Boys’ crooner proud. “The Dreamer’ and “Discount De Kooning (Last One Standing)” are two more shining moments. This record will be on rotation in my household and is a contender already for best album of 2024. Pick-Up Full of Pink Carnations is the ideal companion for a road trip or dance party. The Vaccines make disillusionment feel so good!

Purchase this album 

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