The Vaselines deserve some major credit for sticking to their guns. It’s been 20 years since the band’s last, first, and only full-length album, Dum-Dum. Thankfully, the Scottish duo’s latest effort, Sex With An X, picks up exactly where that left off.
The album’s sound is early-‘90s alternative rock; the kind of stuff that influenced Nirvana and is familiar to fans of Pixies. The album is full of chiming lyrics, traded back and forth between Eugene Kelly and Frances McKee, and droning guitars dripping with dreamy reverb.
There is some religious commentary in Sex With An X, from the obvious in songs like “The Devil’s Inside Me” and “My God’s Bigger Than Your God,” to more comic lyrics like, “It feels so good, it must be bad for me,” that anyone who was ever a young Catholic can relate to.
The Vaselines’ chiming lyrics and sound had already won me over, but “I Hate The ‘80s” sealed the deal. I’m glad a band that lived through the neon and hair spray shared my feelings of the decade and could fit them into a catchy, snarky song. I also love that it’s directed at people from my generation who seem to idolize the decade and are too eager to go back to it, even though they weren’t around for it.
Sex With An X is like a perfectly preserved time capsule from 20 years ago. Instead of coming out bland and out of place in today’s context, it sounds like it has been marinated and is better than ever thanks to the strong songwriting and effort from a band that refuses to compromise.
(Sub Pop Records, 2013 4th Avenue, 3rd Floor, Seattle, WA 98121)