Every now and again, an album comes along that is totally different to everything you’re currently listening to – yet it not only grabs you but it feels like a breath of fresh air. When that album comes from a band more famous for one song, currently celebrating 4 decades since its release, it is a wonderful, pleasant retro surprise.
The band we are talking about are The Vapors, yes, THAT Vapors. Turning Japanese Vapors – and their new 2020 album, Together. I have to say, I really wish this album had come out before that song because if that had happened we would be forever talking about this album and associating the band with this album and not one song.
Make no mistake, had this album been released in the mid to late seventies when punk was enjoying its brightest moments, this would have sold a lot of units (as they say in the industry).
This is such a beautiful album in so many ways. Not only is it steeped in a beautiful retro vibe but you always feel like you’re in the hands of experienced songwriters and music makers.
When I played this album on the radio I said ‘it wasn’t very punk’ and I did it a huge disservice by saying that. There are no soaring guitar riffs here. There are no angry, venomous, foul-mouthed tirades, yet this still feels every inch the retro-punk album. Think more along the lines of the best in pop-punk from the likes of The Buzzcocks or Undertones and you know the journey you’re going to take.
The lyrics on this album from start to finish are deeply dipped in new love, lost love, angst, fear of the future and losing all that you hold dear and are delivered with just the right amount of sadness, despair, love, and…hope. Yes, hope. Through it all, you can still hear the hope that everything will turn out right in the end and the real gift here is that you feel the highs and lows of the journey as you listen to the album.
You simply cannot listen to this album without picking up at least one earworm along the way, again, another gift of the skilled songwriter. I defy anyone to listen to the opening two tracks, the title track, Together or second track, Crazy, and not be singing the chorus after a single listen. Both of these should be serious contenders for track of the year with the latter being a particular favourite of mine.
Soaring guitar solos there may not be but that doesn’t mean the album is bereft of catchy guitar hooks, far from it. In true punk style they are there, perfectly formed in length and ferocity. I could gush about this album – on every single track there is something to like, to love about every one of them….the lovely, lovely bass lines….the endearing harmonies….picture painting lyrics…the wistful way that you get caught up in the moment.
With each and every song you feel as though you’re wrapped up in the mood, the content and the vibe of the song. I may have given the impression it is quite a dour album but it’s far from it, it’s uplifting and not without humour, as the penultimate track ‘King L’ will testify. What The Vapors have created here above all else is an album of charm and warmth, an album I keep going back to when I want a change from the heavier rock I usually listen to and it always makes me feel better, instantly.
‘Together’ gives me butterflies and a feeling of instant love and at the moment, with everything that’s going on in the world; we all need some of that.
The Vapors – Together is out now via Manmade Soul