‘V for Vaselines’ is very, very good
For the vast majority of music lovers, cult-hero Scots the Vaselines will forever be known as “Kurt Cobain’s favorite band,” via his penchant for frequently talking up Eugene Kelly and Frances McKee in interviews, as well as Nirvana’s covers of three of their songs: “Molly’s Lips,” “Son of a Gun,” and “Jesus Doesn't Want Me for a Sunbeam.” Hardly prolific during their initial run—they released only one studio album between their formation in 1986 and their split in 1989—they were rediscovered in the ’90s thanks to Nirvana and Sub Pop’s 1992 compilation The Way of the Vaselines, and they reunited midway through the first decade of the 2000’s, finally releasing their second album Sex with an X in 2010. (The group stopped by Sound Opinions for a live performance and interview during its tour the following year.)
Now, at long last, comes album number three, V for Vaselines, which is as strong as anything they’ve given us. The trademark snark remains (“Being with you/Kills my IQ,” Kelly sings in “Number One Crush”; “If you know what I’ve been thinking/It’s no use that we’re pretending,” McKee adds in “Crazy Lady”), though the lyrics are notably less lewd than the band has been in the past. Arguably, there’s more of the linear rhythms and Velvet Underground drones than we’ve heard from Kelly any time since his wonderful side project Eugenius (which released two killer albums in 1992 and ’94). The Vaselines’ biggest strength, however, remains theirs indelible melodies, a glorious, sunny contrast to the darkest of thoughts, which, no doubt, is what appealed so much to Cobain. And from beginning to end—“High Tide Low Tide” to “Last Half Hour,” with eight more gems in between—the album is a very welcome success.
The Vaselines, V for Vaselines (Rosary Music)
Rating on the four-star scale: 3.5 stars.