Album review – The Vaselines


The Vaselines -‘Sex With An X’ (Sub Pop)

It’s been (over)documeneted that the Vaselines were one of Kurt Cobain’s favourite bands. What continues to rankle is the people who comment that the band might have slipped into obscurity if it hadn’t been for Cobain, because, frankly, in the short period that they were together in the late eighties, the band that centered around Frances McKee and Eugene Kelly produced some very good stuff. One LP and two EPs, to be precise.

Since splitting in 1990, the pair have been involved in numerous other projects (I recommend Kelly’s Eugenius and his solo album, as well as Mckee’s Suckle), and have played together a few times. Finally, over twnety years since their first and so far only LP Dum Dum, comes Sex With An X.

And the nice thing is – it feels like they’re picking up exactly where they left off. Sure they weren’t the most accomplished or polished of bands on record, but that was never the point. They had a sense of ramshackle fun (they weren’t quite part of the c-86 movement), and lyrics that managed to be completely irreverent about sex and religion, quite often in the same song. This still remains, as typefied by the free track that’s been doing the rounds on the net for a while ‘I hate The 80s.’ ‘What do you know? You weren’t there!/it wasn’t all Duran Duran Duran Duran [sic]/You want the truth? Well, this is it/I hate the 80s, ‘cos the 80s were shit.’ No, it’s not Shakespeare, but it’s typical Vaselines and it feels like it’s twenty years ago. In a good way.

Their legend has grown in their absence – and they’re back to show that they’re just as important as many of the bands that Cobain claimed as an influence. How long they’ll work together is anyone’s guess, but this is a shambling indie-pop joy of an album. Oh, and the Vaselines 2010 sees our heroes Eugene and Frances backed on this album by Stevie Jackson and Bob Kildea from Belle & Sebastian on guitar and bass respectively, and the 1990s’ Michael McGaughrin on drums. What more could you ask for?


Sex With An X is out now on Sub Pop.

The Vaselines -‘Sex With An X.’ mp3

The Vaselines -‘I Hate The ’80’s.’ mp3

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