Niall McGuirk on The Vaselines‘ new LP, V For Vaselines

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The Vaselines have got an interesting history. Their debut album was released in 1992 and, much like Adebisi Shank have done on their third album, The Vaselines split for other things soon after its release.

Nirvana highlighted their pop prowess and Sub Pop released a compilation in the 90’s. As happened with Dublin’s own Paranoid Visions, the band got a new lease of life in the 21st Century and got back together for some gigs which resulted in their Enter The Vaselines release in 2010.

And so 22 years after their debut was released we now have the third proper album, V for Vaselines. Interestingly enough it all came together after Eugene Kelly had seen a Ramones covers band in Glasgow (wonder if he knows of The Ramonas). Of course being a duo, Frances and Eugene felt the need to bring in some collaborators. A few phone calls to some friends from the world of Scottish indie music – including the likes of Belle And Sebastian, Mogwai and Teenage Fan Club – and bang, you have an album. Pretty impressive, eh? 

They got in and out of the studio as quickly as possible and brought a punky energy to their sound. Of course it is music based in the dream world of pop tunes, but every so often that Ramones covers band breaks through – One Lost Year and High Tide Low Tide have the faster Ramones feel for you to sing along to. It’s not all Ramones-esque though.

For those who believe Jesus Christ existed he lived 33 years, a year for every minute of this record and, like Jesus, The Vaselines were quiet for much of their existence, but dreamy pop is their religion. The pretty pop Sound of Single Spies and The Lonely bring to mind not only C86 bands, and post C86 favourites like Heavenly, but also their pop contemporaries of today, Allo Darlin. Belle And Sebastian cry out with Inky Lies, a song steeped in a sound so cool it must have been written in an ice box. There’s playful sing alongs that won’t lead you into revolution but “Being With Youuuuuuuuu, Kills My IQ” and “Ba pa pa pa ba pa pa pa” have been revolving around my head in much the same way as I Wanna Be Sedated does after I listen to it.

It all ends with a nod to the Velvets as Eugene tells us “Switch On, switch off, dim the lights low, final curtain, end of the show“, but hopefully the Vaselines show is experiencing a renaissance