During two years in the late 1980s, The Vaselines released two singles and an LP to little notice – to say the band flew under the radar is an understatement. But we all know how Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain brought them out of obscurity and into the limelight covering three of their songs in total, one of which appeared in their MTV Unplugged performance. The fact that more than 20 years later The Vaselines are finally releasing a sophomore album and the hype surrounding it goes to show not only how important and influential of a band Nirvana were, but how good of a band The Vaselines are.
The pressure surrounding sophomore albums is always high; just ask the Stone Roses. Sex With An X, however, doesn’t exactly have that sophomore feeling. To be honest, I never expected anything else from the core duo and founding members, Eugene Kelly and Frances McKee. Sure they released solo material, even playing the old tracks together live in recent years, but a proper LP was never anything the band had to do; their story is already legendary.
The album’s first single and title track, still encompasses a warm and innocent, ‘clap along’ sound we’ve grown so fond of over the years. Lyrically, Kelly and McKee seem to be writing about the same things: the devil (“The Devil’s Inside Me”), kissing (“Mouth to Mouth”) and attacking misogyny, (“My God’s Bigger Than Your God”): “Put you in a headlock and twist your arm, listen boy I’m going to do you harm,” sings Kelly.
But after 20 years, some things about the Vaselines have indeed changed. Many songs seem to be an attempt to distance themselves from their previous work and reestablish themselves as contemporary artists. “Overweight and Over You,” perfectly expresses what the Vaselines are all about – they’re older but still a tad angsty. Then there is the song titled, “I Hate the ’80s,” a sweet throwback to the ‘Me Generation’ reminding us “It wasn’t all Duran Duran.”
The Vaselines have established themselves, once again, as contemporary artists. Twenty years later, their fuzzy innocent sound, which has been cleaned up a little, is still there, even if it doeesn’t quite have the same charm as the classics. What we do get is some new Vaselines songs that, for awhile, will be in our stereos, getting plenty of revolutions, but in time we will gradually opt for Enter the Vaselines.