(4 out of 5)
So, over 20 years after their last (and only) studio album (1989’s DUM-DUM), the Vaselines have gone and made a follow-up album. A couple of things are worth noting: First, the purposefully rudimentary approach Eugene Kelly and Frances McKee originally utilized in the Vaselines hasn’t changed a bit, and SEX WITH AN X makes it seem as if the last two decades were definitely not spent at music school. (Again, this approach is “purposeful,” as anyone who’s heard the more polished sound of Kelly’s band Eugenius or McKee’s 2000 solo album can attest.) Second, the US release of a Vaselines album makes even less sense in 2010 than it did in 1992 when Sub Pop reissued DUM-DUM (along with the group’s earlier EPs) nearly three years after the band broke up. The group’s particular take on ramshackle twee-pop was quite out of step when they originally appeared, seemingly a thing that could only be appreciated by cardigan-wearing Glaswegians who had exhausted the discography of Sarah Records. But, thanks to namedropping of a certain Kurt Cobain – who loudly and repeatedly proclaimed the genius of Kelly’s songwriting and covered more than a few Vaselines songs with Nirvana – hordes of grunge completists found themselves listening to the duo’s fragile, fractured, and funny jangle-pop. Of course, five or six years ago, one could have found scores of Vaselines-sounding bands clogging up indie-rockers’ best-of lists; but now, with hearts and minds turned to chillwave and formalized classic rock/Americana tropes, the timing seems as wrong as any for another Vaselines album. Which, of course, is just perfect, since songs like the goofy wobble of “I Hate the ‘80s” and the appropriately sludgy sing-song silliness of “Overweight But Over You” are as timeless as any other Vaselines tracks.
First appeared Sept. 14, 2010 at Shockhound.com.