Updated: Sep 20
Self-proclaimed makers of ‘woozy guitar pop”, Vacations continue to redefine and hone their sound with their latest album Forever in Bloom. The Newy-based band take their music to another level with this plethora of indie-pop hits which recall some of their earlier surf-rock tracks, while also boasting really tight production, glossier guitars than ever and contemplative lyrics, complimenting their edge towards the pop scene. Between the really colourful hits, smooth jams and emotional ballads on this album, Vacations manage to provide the perfect music to mull over in isolation, while also making me long for the return of live gigs.
‘Floraison’ opens this album like the 20th Century Fox intro. This immersive instrumental track let’s us know that Forever in Bloom is a cinematic experience, with highs and lows. And it starts on a high.
We are busted straight into ‘Seasons’, which reminds new listeners who the band is and has been, while filling that Vacations-shaped void in those of us who have been regularly checking their socials for a new music announcement. Maybe that’s just me. Like many of the tracks on this album, ‘Seasons’ features an impressive breakdown with the added bonus of an absolutely delicious saxophone solo.
The album continues to impress as it moves through to chorus-driven songs like ‘Lavender’, ‘Time Crisis’ and ‘Ego’. These jams again, hark back to a familiar sound for Vacations, and are reminiscent of artists like Wallows, Mac DeMarco, Boy Pablo and funnily enough, No Vacation. Also, if you want a more extensive glimpse into the creative process behind this album, check out Vacations’ Spotify; each member has made a personal playlist of their musical inspiration for Forever in Bloom and it’s crazy to see how much they’ve packed into thirteen songs.
Forever in Bloom will leave you with that feeling of exiting the cinema and driving home without saying anything to your mates about what just happened - it was just too good.
As well as being an absolute vibe, ‘Lavender’ offers us a taste of the resonant lyrics that, along with impressive guitar performances from Campbell Burns and Nate Delizzotti, anchor this album.
“If only there was a way I could illustrate all of my surroundings back to you”
‘Actors’ and ‘Time Crisis’, while representing the bands continued movement towards indie-pop, also assure me that the sound of Newcastle has not been forgotten. Vacations seem to have cultivated their fuzzy, beachy groove in such a way that they don’t even need to reference their hometown to be recognisable as locals. These two tracks will be my go-to’s for coastal drives and naps at the beach in 2020. ‘Glow’ follows, reads like a poem and features the shiniest guitar I think I’ve ever heard - I’m obsessed.
‘Panache’ comes in the middle of the album and is a real highlight. The first half of the song is driven by a really silky bass line, and Jake Johnson’s performance really shines. Featured artist Sarah Sykes’ airy, high register compliments that prominent bass (as well as Burns’ rounded tone) perfectly and starts to take the song to new heights. Then, when Craterface is introduced for their melodic verse, we’re taken to an almost interstellar place.
After what seems like a peak, ‘Something Here’ is the perfect follow-up. Again, we are reminded that this album is cinematic and dynamic with this shorter, more tranquil track. Despite only having a few lyrics, it offers the perfect amount of time for reflecting on what came before it.
“Do you feel something here?/ Oh I know anything could happen./ Do you feel it in the air?/ Oh I know anything can happen.”
‘Ego’ and ‘Peaches’ offer a gradual rise back to the upbeat place we found ourselves in earlier, and the album seems to come to a culmination at ‘Avalanche’. If Forever in Bloom is a movie, this song is being played in the trailer. It’s really lyrically charged, features Vacations signature wavy guitar and is lead perfectly into the next track, ‘Wildflower’ by drummer Joey Van Lier.
The last two tracks on this album are beautiful. ‘Wildflower’ is Forever in Bloom’s curtain call. Beginning with small strokes of that shiny guitar we love, accompanied by Burns’ far-away vocals, we are enveloped in an enclosed space like a tunnel or a rabbit hole until finally the melody is revealed in a beam of light a minute into the song. Once we’re lulled into the false sense that this is the note Vacations are ending on, the track cuts off unexpectedly, demanding that we listen to the absolutely stunning ballad that wraps up Forever in Bloom like an encore we didn’t even have to cheer for.
‘Take Care’ was the most unexpected track on the album for me, but it’s by far my favourite. It features a stripped-back piano and allows Burns’ to showcase his vocal range and timbre which pairs so well with the song’s intensely aesthetic lyrics.
“So true, blue, nowhere new/ I float in empty thoughts with you/ Caught adrift within a deep hue/ Played out perfectly on cue/ Take note, this won’t last forever/ Take care, nothing lasts forever.”
The second half of the song really explodes, breaking down to expose the best of the guitars, bass and drums that we’ve heard so far. Finally, the smoke clears, the song fades away and leaves us alone to stew.
Forever in Bloom will leave you with that feeling of leaving the cinema and driving home without saying anything to your mates about what just happened; it was just too good. Vacations have managed to maintain that laid-back, youthful vibe that we know and love from them, while also structuring the album so we get glimpses of the deep stuff. Fans of Vacations can expect to be satisfied and surprised with this one.