Frances McKee and Eugene Kelly still play off of each other beautifully. Songs like 'The Lonely LP' and 'One Lost Year' have strong, catchy, almost surfy riffs, and 'Earth is Speeding' has a squealing hot line under the verses. It’s enough to allow the curious easy listening vibe of 'Single Spies' a pass. But then there are lyrics that speak too much of adolescent frustration, peaking on the pub rollick 'Inky Lies', on which the duo unforgivably joins the ranks of bands who have “hey” shouted on their songs.
There are still shades of the familiar cheeky attitude in 'Crazy Lady' and 'Number One Crush', but it’s not really their schtick anymore. If anything, there’s a bit of fatigue in wafting through the lyrics, especially on album closer 'Last Half Hour', whose chorus refers to the "final curtain/end of the show". Then again, Sex with an X’s closing track, “Exit the Vaselines” was similarly suggestive. So who knows what The Vaselines will do next.
(Drowned In Sound)
Still, it’s not enough to deter fans of their usual guileless and effortless approach to song craft: vocal harmonies still predominate, and Eugene and Frances’ breezy interplay still works beautifully. Their ability to create strong, catchy riffs is all present and correct, and the use of different aspects of rock ‘n’ roll similarly prevails: opener “High Tide Low Tide” distinctly shares the same primitive and frantic pop brilliance of The Ramones, while "Last Half Hour"'s Spector-esque bass drum pattern is the album at its most languid and reflective, alongside the introspective, bittersweet “Single Spies”.
While Sex With An X sounded like the band had never been away, and rather a nostalgic counterpart to their 1989 debut Dum Dum, V for Vaselines is more indicative of a band who are decades into their careers, not so much mellowing with age, but sticking to what they know with slightly more focus on the present rather than the past. Granted, there are the sporadic moments where it doesn’t seem like The Vaselines have moved on that much at all – such as the lyrics that so frequently speak of adolescent frustration – and there’s a feeling that they aren’t quite stretching themselves enough here, but truth be told, we wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s a tried and tested formula, but no one really does it in a manner as unfailingly, beautifully hilarious as The Vaselines.
(The Line Of Best Fit)