The Vaselines – Sex With an X

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Twenty years ago, after bridging the gap from small, unknown Glaswegian noise pop group, to indie stars, The Vaselines broke up, leaving their fans in awe of why a band at their prime would dissolve so quickly after their sudden success. Now, they’re back, twenty years wiser and hoping to make an album that holds the distinct and fast sound from their previous release, while adapting it ever so slightly so that it might fit in with the current music scene. It is a feat that may prove easier said than done.

After a brief, lullaby-esque, introduction, “Ruined,” picks up right where The Vaselines left off; rocking and rolling. With low grinding guitars and steady drums, pounding away in the background, Eugene Kelly and Frances Mckee harmonize to tell us the ever positive reminder that “you’ll die, we’ll all sigh.” While not the most upbeat of lyrics, the ever present drums juxtapose with said lyrics to balance the song, a great start to the album. Following this is the title track, which is also a song with a darker tone lyrically, yet comes across almost cheery. Mckee’s honey-sweet vocals serve as the temptation to which Kelly’s self deprecating words try so desperately to get away from, yet gives into at the end of each chorus, just as the listener gives into the enticing empathy of feeling completely controlled by desires.

Then, Sex with an X takes a turn to a slower pace, and begins to lose me.

At four minutes and thirty four seconds, “The Devil’s Inside Me” seems to hang on about two minutes entirely too long for a song that doesn’t have that much meat musically, or lyrically. Next, they follow up with another fast paced song, which disappointingly sounds much too similar to the title track, only without the depth and hooks that dueling vocals in the earlier song provided. This is the pattern for the next two songs “Overweight But Over You” and “Poison Pen.”

“I Hate the 80’s,” comes with some form of change: a layer of tambourine and high pitched organ for parts of the song, which serves as a sort of awakening from the lull that the past four songs doled out. This then leads up to “Mouth to Mouth,” which holds a tone of desperation that carries this song into the distinct category where “Ruined,” and “Sex With an X” reside. It has a strong build up to the chorus, yet doesn’t feel too worn by the end of the song.

Sadly, following the ninth song on this album, it feels almost as if The Vaselines have given up, with three songs left. “Whitechapel” drags on for a little too long like “The Devil’s Inside Me,” followed by another attempt to pick up the pace before closing the album with the same melody in which it began.

In the end, there just isn’t enough depth to this album. Yes, my feet are tapping vigorously and the lyrics are pretty damn catchy, but it is too difficult to keep all the songs from running together in my head. This is what makes Sex With An X a good collection of songs, but not a cohesive album that I will want to listen all the way through repeatedly. I applaud The Vaselines in their attempt at a comeback, but I am bored by the lack of variation that seemed to get lost with the passage of such a long period of time.


Download: The Vaselines – Sex With An X [MP3]

Review written by Nicole Baumann

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