Growing old gracefully is not easy in the music world, especially for any group whose earliest recordings are still considered their creative peak. Yet, the Scottish pop duo the Vaselines have managed to hit upon the perfect formula with V For Vaselines, their third album and the band’s second since reconvening after a 16-year break. Co-leaders Eugene Kelly and Frances McKee don’t try to recreate past glories nor do they attempt to ape contemporary sounds. Instead, they act exactly like who they are: two longtime friends in their 50s making simple, comfortable, and fun music together.
What helps these songs is the fact that, unlike their first reunion album (2010′s Sex With An X), the group financed the recording of V For Vaselines without the help of a record label. That meant no time to overthink or fool around in the studio. The no-nonsense approach helped give these 10 tracks a clean, streamlined feel that befits the warm, fuzzy drive of Kelly and McKee’s guitars and the robust garage pop churned out by a backing band that includes members of Sons and Daughters, 1990s and Belle and Sebastian.
Where the two lead Vaselines show their age is in the album’s subject matter. The sex-hungry fever of the early days has been replaced with more adult concerns, like the shady dealings of the modern press (“Inky Lies”), the changing listening habits of today’s music fans (“The Lonely LP”) and the pain of a dying relationship (the he said/she said ’60s-style ballad “Single Spies”).
There’s plenty of cheeky humor here to prove that Kelly and McKee haven’t lost the wicked wit of their youth (“Being with you/ kills my IQ” goes the chorus of the glammy “Number One Crush”). But otherwise, V For Vaselines is the product of two folks comfortable in their slowly aging skin, content to knock out a few tunes as long as they’re home in time for supper.