Calling all fanboys and fangirls. Gather around because it is time for another lesson. Today we will be learning about the band The Vamps while listening to their debut album “Meet the Vamps.” What an appropriate name! For each track of the album I will write a short review or commentary of my thoughts. Then I will provide a fact about the band. This way by the end of the record you will not only have heard the music but will know about bit more about the artist. Time to Listen & Learn!
Please note that I am listening to the Christmas Version of “Meet the Vamps”. The track listing is slightly different, with a definite change in the order of songs versus the original UK release and the original US release.
Track #1: Wild Heart
Not knowing anything about the band previously, the folksy acoustic guitar surprised me. I like it. The clapping-filled breakdown in the middle was the highlight of the song. Not the most complex track, but the idea of needing a ‘Wild Heart’ has mass appeal. For someone younger it could equate to rebellion or the love of a ‘bad boy’ while it plays on my desire for freedom & adventure.
Vamps Fact #1: The Band
The Vamps are a British pop band. Referring to them as a ‘boy band’ is debatable. They have a pop-y boy band sound however they also play instruments and can musically exist without an outside backup band. Basically they are more band than 1D but more boy band than 5SoS…so the middle of the boy band to band spectrum.
Track #2: Last Night
This song is a pretty typical ‘early album of a young boy band’ song. Very ‘Up All Night’ or ‘Live While We’re Young’. It hints at debauchery…but is still being sung by teens who have a tween fanbase so never comes right out & says that they did anything scandalous. They “might have kissed someone”. I can’t wait until album #3 when, if they’re anything like One Direction, they’ll be telling girls “it’s alright if it makes you feel alive.”
Vamps Fact #2: The Members
The Vamps are made of 4 lads:
• Brad Simpson – Lead Vocals & Guitar
• James McVey – Lead Guitar & Vocals
• Connor Ball – Bass Guitar & Vocals
• Tristan Evans – Drums & Vocals
Track #3: Somebody to You
This is the only song I actually knew of the Vamp’s. I found it was always getting stuck in my head, even before I knew the words. It was the inspiration for this post. I obviously find it very catchy (the background “Yeah You”s really get me) and the addition of Demi Lovato on the US album release kicks it up another notch.
Vamps Fact #3: Formation
The Vamps were born out of James McVey’s wish to end his lonely solo pursuits and make a band. He first found Brad Simpson on YouTube and they started a writing partnership. Together they later found Connor & Tristan through Facebook & YouTube…oh how social media has helped the pop stars of today.
Track #4: Can We Dance
I’ve heard this song before! Had no idea who sang it, but now I do I guess. I love the cold open. It showcases the interesting rasp in his (Brad I’m guessing?) voice. I already feel more rebellion in this song than just two tracks earlier…perhaps these boy are maturing at an accelerated pace?
Vamps Fact #4: The Brit Factor
I mentioned above that they are British but I moved on awfully fast…not my style at all. Let’s take a second to celebrate that there is another group of cute British boys taking over the world, another generation if you will as all of the Vamps are younger than the youngest member of One Direction. 3 of the Vamps, Brad, James & Tristan, are English, while Connor is Scottish.
Track #5: Girls on TV
Don’t get me wrong, I like the variety of this album, but it’s a bit all over the place. This is probably my least favorite track…I find it a bit odd and, as a general rule, like songs that feel timeless rather than ones that make current pop culture references (like the mention of Beyoncé & Rihanna).
Vamps Fact #5: Not To Be Confused With…
Be careful not to confuse the new pop phenomenon The Vamps with the previously existing Aussie group by the same name. It might be hard to keep them straight: One is a group of 4 British boys hitting it big in 2014. The other a group of 5 Australian women trying to make it in the late 60’s/early 70’s. ?
Track #6: Risk It All
Folky Vamps are my favorite Vamps. It’s official. The Mumford-style chanting in the background adds so much interest to the song. I also appreciate the complexity in this track when compared to some of the others. They’re still a relatively new band so I know that will come with time & age but this seems like a step in the right direction.
Vamps Fact #6: Making It
The Vamps were signed by Mercury Records in November 2012…they had only formed as a band earlier that year! Mercury Records also represents Jake Bugg, Fall Out Boy, Iggy Azalea, Elton John, Dolly Parton & Van Morrison…among others.
Track #7: Oh Cecilia (Breaking My Heart)
Put me on a beach and bring me a drink in a hollowed out coconut so I can properly enjoy this island beat. Fun for summer but seems a bit inappropriate for my November playlists.
Vamps Fact #7: The Front Man
Brad Simpson (28-Jul-95) – Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands
Brad does lead vocals for The Vamps. His favorite color is red and his favorite fruit is kiwi. He is an awful speller, he can play the ukulele (and guitar and piano) and his mom still cuts his hair. He’ll have to quit that though if he wants to keep his resemblance to Harry Styles, to whom he’s often compared.
Track #8: Another World
A dreamy love song about longing to be in another world where “nothing could keep us apart”. A bit too naïve for me, but then again I’m not their target audience. It’s like looking back at early TSwift while being at the 1989-stage of your life, too fairy-tale-ideal when you now understand that “it’s gonna be forever or it’s gonna go down in flames.”
Vamps Fact #8: On the Road
The Vamps already have a lengthy list of high quality tour buddies. First they opened for McFly on their Memory Lame Tour in 2013. Then they kicked off the night at each oh Taylor Swift’s UK concerts on her Red Tour. They have also set the stage for The Wanted, Lawson, Little Mix and Demi Lovato.
They headlined for the first time in September/October 2014 on a UK tour. January 2015 will see them headlining around Australia and onto Asia in February. Could this be the start of a world tour?
Track #9: Move My Way
This song is reminiscent of causal Bruno Mars, which is my favorite kind of Bruno Mars. I like the light beat mixed with fast-paced, almost slurred lyrics. All with a self-assured message about compromise and not changing for anyone…I think… I’m picturing dancing in my living room on a lazy Sunday.
Vamps Fact #9: On Guitar
James McVey (30-Apr-94) Bournemouth, Dorset
James McVey loves the color red, Winnie the Pooh, Taylor Swift, World of Warcraft and the Lord of the Rings movies…and playing guitar for the Vamps of course! He considers Owl City to be one of his main musical influences.
Track #10: Shout About It
The title had me expecting a dance anthem, but instead I’m getting acoustic harmonies. Very pretty. This song is a shining example of the magic of boy bands.
Vamps Fact #10: I’m All About That Bass
Connor Ball (15-Mar-96) – Aberdeen, Scotland
Bassist Connor is a Pisces who loves to sleep. However when he’s awake he’s active and said to be the best dancer in the group. He hates moths, is allergic to nuts and has a Zombie Apocalypse plan. He once fell off the stage opening for Taylor Swift & had to have his arm in a sling.
Track #11: High Hopes
This song is the best first date you’ve ever hard. Your stomach is full of butterflies and your brain is a bit muttled but your heart is both incredibly light & bursting full at the same time. My mood is instantly brighter. The world is a hopefully place full of opportunity and potential.
Vamps Fact #11: Writers
Almost all of the songs on “Meet the Vamps” include at least one of the band members in the writing credits. These guys are trying to be legit, and I think it’s working.
Track #12: She Was the One
I’m not sure whether this song is angry or regretful. I like understanding who is at fault in a song and I just can’t figure this one out. However I really enjoy the track.
Vamps Fact #12: Award Winners
These talented boys won Breakout Artist Awards (or the equivalent) at multiple awards in the last year, including:
• BBC Radio 1 Teen Awards
• Hot Hit Awards
• 4Music Video Honors
• Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards
• MTV Awards
With nominations at the Radio Disney Music Awards and Teen Choice Awards. It seems they have really smashed onto the scene.
Track #13: Dangerous
Another variation on sound for the boys. They are quite versatile in their indie-pop boy band style. I enjoy that it’s a song about a bad girl, instead of the boy always getting to be the corrupting influence. Past that I haven’t decided how I feel about this track yet.
Vamps Fact #13: Bang That Drum
Tristan Evans (15-Aug-94) – Exeter, Devon
The Vamps drummer is the only band member over 6ft tall. He likes the color orange and the song ‘I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing’ by Aerosmith. He likes to hang out in his tigre onsie and listen to Blink 182 and Linkin Park. He relies on front man Brad to tell him when he needs to shave.
Track #14: Lovestruck
I love this song. It’s so adorably hopeful that I can’t even be mad that the theme is love-at-first-sight. “I’d wait all day just for a maybe.” Who can resist that kind of awe-shucks style charm?
Vamps Fact #14: Simply having a wonderful Christmas time
The Vamps rereleased “Meet the Vamps” yesterday (Dec 1st) as a Christmas Extended Edition! It includes all of the old favorites (aka the ones I just listened to for the first time above) along with 8 (that’s EIGHT!) Christmas songs! Time to get in the holiday spirit with our new favorite band!!!
Track #15: Smile
A strong finish to the album. I love when you finish on a high note with an uplifting anthem.
Vamps Fact #15: New Fan
Its official: I’m a fan. I’m such a sucker for boy bands, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.
I hope you learned something new and discovered a band you previously hadn’t listened to. Or you just checked out my take on a group that was already your favorite. Either way, I hope you enjoyed Listening & Learning with me!
Love & Luck,