Vacations’ “Telephones”

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Vacations performing live in concert.

Vacations is an indie-rock quartet from Newcastle, Australia. The group composes soft and subdued alternative-rock that is both spirited and somber. After two EP releases, Days and Vibes, Vacations released their debut album Changes. Their sound evolved between each installment, starting with garage-rock and shoegaze influenced tracks on Days, to the jangle-pop style of Vibes, and eventually to the clearly refined and slick sound of Changes. Not to say that the musical style of Changes is superior to that of its predecessors, but it does depart from the DIY and lo-fi sound of the previous EPs. The lyrics on each track are repetitive and minimalistic, written intentionally vague in an effort to allow the listener to apply the words to their own emotions and experiences. The instrumentation, while fast-paced, is fun and easy to listen to. Vacations makes excellent use of “musical space” in their songs, often having the notes from the rhythm and lead guitars on opposing sides of the soundscape.

Changes is comprised of ten quiet and calming soft-rock ballads, with singles “Moving Out” and “Steady.” Although these are quality tracks that support and contribute to the album, the true standout track is the introspective and secretly romantic “Telephones.” This beautifully composed track is a love song between the world’s most popular couple – a person and their phone. The chorus, “I wish I could live without you, but you’re a part of me,” reflects the instinctually inseparable relationship that we all share with our closest kept companion. The song’s lyrics touch on the addictive habit of checking your phone as you wake up and scrolling for hours before going to sleep – “Fall into the night, as I gaze into you, shine so bright, it’s all I do.”

“Telephones” is elegantly constructed. The track begins with solo guitar strumming that continues unaccompanied until the faint sound of a dialing telephone introduces the full instrumentation. This smooth transition is savory and satisfying, an excellent way to set off a track. The vocals eloquently echo over the song’s soft instrumentation, creating a calm combination of voice and guitar. The track is minimal in structure, supporting only two short verses, two brief choruses, and a limited outro. “Telephones” is concluded with the cascading repetition of the lyrics “you’ll always be next me,” spiraling into each other as they increase in intensity before finally fading out.

This track serves as a cautionary tale, paralleling the message of MGMT’s 2018 track “Tslamp.” Both of these tracks dictate the story of a hopelessly addicted protagonist, who can’t seem to break free of the infectious habit of wasting time on their phone.

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