Vain - 'Rolling With The Punches' (PledgeMusic) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Ben Hughes   
Monday, 17 April 2017 04:30

Vain - Rolling artwork"Holy shit, a new album from Vain!" Those were my immediate thoughts on discovering the PledgeMusic campaign from the San Francisco glam rock legends. I use the words 'glam rock' casually in the context of Vain, as this was a band who were out there in a world of their own really back in 1989 when they released their debut album 'No Respect'. 


While they were undeniably 'glam' in the image department, Vain sounded like no other band back in the day and that still rings true today. Listening to 'No Respect' now, it still holds up. The combination of Davy Vain's haunting, ethereal vocals and the twin guitars of Jamie Scott and Danny West were something that has never been equalled or bettered in my opinion. Name me one band who sound remotely like Vain? Punky riffs, sleazy metal solos and songs about sex...that was Vain and they blew my teenage mind.


But that was 28 years ago, many lifetimes in rock 'n' roll terms. What can five guys from San Francisco, pushing the wrong side of 50, possibly offer to the rock world in 2017? Well, quite a lot actually. The fact that this album was recorded with 4/5ths of the original 'No Respect' line up, and the fact that several of these songs actually date back to the recording of that album, might explain why 'Rolling With The Punches' sounds like the natural successor to 'No Respect' in many ways.


In fact, this album sounds like a cross between 'No Respect' and its actual follow up album 'Move On It' (remember that original sophomore album, 'All Those Strangers', was shelved for many years). While the debut was the young guns, out fucking everything that moved, 'Move On It' was the comedown, after-sex cigarette on the verge of falling in love. Now 'Rolling With The Punches' seems to be the perfect combination of both.


Whether studio trickery has been used or not, Davy Vain sounds exactly as he did all those years ago. Those unmistakable velvety textured tones emanate from the speakers on the opening title track, as the guitars of Jamie Scott weave sleazy, sonic tapestries with as much feel and verve as they did all those years ago. A mid-paced groover with a rousing chorus sees the band sounding like they have never been away.


A staccato delay induced riff introduces 'Deliver The Passion', a song that dates back to those first album sessions, it delivers the feel and energy of 'Who's Watching You'. This is the signature Vain sound, a killer chorus and cool as fuck guitars leave this reviewer very happy that Vain are back.


The standard upbeat rockers such as 'Don't Let It Happen To You' and 'Sacrifice' are classic Vain. The former especially with its mid song breakdown and staggering guitar solo. I mean, I'm not sure whether Jamie Scott is handling all the guitars on this album (it sounds like it to me) or touring guitarist Joel Proto has a hand in it, but he's single-handedly make guitar solos cool again in my book.


But it's the slow burning, mid paced songs that are doing it for me on this album. 'Inside Out', with its haunting vocals and sonically seductive guitar lines is magnificent. It's one of those Vain songs that completely enraptures the listener, a song to get lost to. This could have easily fitted on either of their first two albums. Elsewhere, the emotive 'Bury Some Pain' is dreamy and full of sentiment, Davy's crooning vocals the perfect fit.



Effect ridden guitars tones give a gothic feel and a sense of drama to the anthemic 'Dark City'. This is such a great track. It's difficult to tell which songs are new and which are older cuts such is the quality of the material on offer. But I do know that album closer 'Show Your Love' is a song that never made the cut on 'No Respect'. It's a killer track delivered straight from the crotch. The indie drum beats and the fabulous guitar work make this essential fodder for Vain fans. Davy screams out the chorus as the guitars follow his melody, Jamie wringing the life from his guitar like every note is to be his last. A fantastic album closer that never should have been shelved for all these years.


Although I like their last two studio albums 'Rolling With The Punches' easily beats them in quality and feel for me. While it maybe lacks the raw punchy attitude of the debut and the laid back, psychedelia and sentimentality of 'Move On It', it still has that magic something that will keep me coming back for more like those first two albums still do. Maybe it's the chemistry of Davy Vain, Jamie Scott, Ashley Mitchell and Tom Rickard back together in a room (where's Mr West though?) that does it. Whatever it is, it's good to have them back recording and touring and I'm excited for their performance at the upcoming Hair Metal Heaven and HRH Sleaze festivals at the end of the summer. But, for now, 'Rolling With The Punches' is a magnificent return to form.


‘Rolling With The Punches’ is out now. You can buy your copy HERE.


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