It’s only a seven-second moment in a song that’s 1 minute 23 seconds long. But the guitar bridge that explodes in the middle of “Wreckin’ Bar (Ra Ra Ra)” — the punk anthem that opens the dazzling debut from Britain’s the Vaccines — is everything that’s great about rock in one condensed, joyous burst. And when Justin Young and company stretch, on shoutalongs like “Norgaard,” “Wolf Pack,” “If You Wanna” and the definitive “Post Break-Up Sex,” their “What Did You Expect From the Vaccines?” rises to the level of modern masterpiece. They bow into San Francisco this weekend.
Do you actually hail from London’s neo-folk scene, where you even lived with Mumford & Son members as solo artist Jay Jay Pistolet? That is true. I was part of that whole group of friends, musicians, and not just professionally, but creatively. But I saw people bettering themselves, and admittedly, professionally I saw people bypass me. So I just didn’t feel like I was hitting the nail on the head — I hit a brick wall with [folk], and I lost all my drive and my interest in it, really. So then I was just bumming around, blurred about what I was going to do.
Then you met guitarist Freddie Cowan, and your style changed? Yeah. Once we started playing together, I had something to aim for again. And I felt refreshed, I felt creative again, and I just wrote a whole string of songs as a result. I finally felt good again, you know?
There are a lot of classic 1950s and ’60s guitar tones in your music, such as surf, Spector and Duane Eddy, right? Somebody told me the other day that they couldn’t hear any nostalgia in our songs. But I’d like to think that there’s a ton of nostalgia. We love a lot of ’60s stuff, like the Spector girl groups and all that — I really like the direct nature in which they wrote and recorded songs. Freedom with reverb creates something that’s not necessarily there, like a sixth dimension, and the girl groups did that really well. And to a certain extent, we try to do that, as well.
And “Post Break-Up Sex” is a sad but true story? Yeah, it is. I try to be quite frank lyrically, so it’s completely true. The album’s themes are love and jealousy and anger — all that youthful young man stuff, and it’s hopefully quite direct. It’s a real what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of pop record, that’s for sure!
IF YOU GO
Where: Popscene’s Club BFD, Mezzanine, 444 Jessie St., San Francisco
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Tickets: $15 to $20
Contact: (415) 625-8880, www.mezzaninesf.com