Personnel: Bradley Simpson (vocals, guitar, keyboards); James McVey (vocals, guitar); Tristan Evans (vocals, drums); Connor Ball (vocals).
Photographer: Andy Whitton.
The sophomore album from Britain's the Vamps, 2015's Wake Up features more of the group's exuberant synth and guitar-based pop. Once again showcased are the talents of lead vocalist/guitarist Brad Simpson, lead guitarist/vocalist James McVey, bassist/vocalist Connor Ball, and drummer/vocalist Tristan Evans. Wake Up follows the group's 2014 debut and finds the Vamps expanding upon their '80s-influenced dance-rock sound and emo-style acoustic balladry with a slick studio sheen. Major pop producers including Steve Mac, Rami Yacoub, Carl Falk, and others collaborate with the band this time out. The result is an album full of catchy pop hooks laden with slabs of Day-Glo synths, kinetic guitars, and dancey drums. Cuts like "Rest Your Love," "Be with You," and "Cheater" bring to mind something along the lines of Australia's 5 Seconds of Summer backed by the Naked and Famous. Similarly, "Burn" has a lively, uplifting vibe that sounds surprisingly like Maroon 5 doing a Rihanna song. Of course, they also deliver more than dance-oriented cuts, and tracks like the romantic "Million Words" and "Coming Home" will appeal to fans who prefer the more intimate acoustic and romantic end of the group's sound. Admittedly, the Vamps certainly fit nicely into the post-One Direction boy band aesthetic, and while there is a lot to like about Wake Up, it will appeal primarily to the band's target teen audience. That said, with their stylistically wide-ranging taste and knack for hooks, the Vamps may just find a few older fans waking up to their sound. ~ Matt Collar