The Vaselines broke up in 1989 just after the release of their only album, Dum Dum. The split was partly due to the members Eugene Kelly and Frances McKee splitting as a couple, partly down to not seeing a place for themselves in the music industry. Despite a brief reunion shortly after their demise to play a couple shows in support of Nirvana (Kurt Cobain was rather famously a huge fan of the band), the split seemed very final. Jump ahead almost 20 years to 1998 and a call from Sub Pop. The label, which had reissued the band's work in 1992 with The Way of the Vaselines: A Complete History, was throwing itself a huge party for its 20th anniversary and wanted the Vaselines to appear. Kelly and McKee said yes. The Sub Pop show and a couple others went well and they decided to do an album. After a year of writing songs and a couple weeks of recording, the record fans of the band never thought would appear, appeared. With backing from Stevie Jackson and Bob Kildea of Belle & Sebastian and production from old cohort Jamie Watson, the album certainly sounds like a Vaselines record. Slightly cleaned up but still very simple and direct, Sex with an X is filled with wryly humorous tunes that sport extremely catchy singalong choruses. There may be less danger, drugs, and silly sex in the sound and lyrics, but that's probably to be expected. Thankfully, there's far less maturity on hand than one might have feared. Kelly and McKee still gleefully take on religion, relationships, and sex, but it's with a lighter touch and a bit more restraint. Instead of "Monsterpussy," we get "Mouth to Mouth." While fans of teenage smut may feel a slight letdown, that's really not the Vaselines' problem. They realized it would sound weird to try to write the same kind of songs as middle-aged solid citizens and they show they can still be sexy and fun without being silly and scandalous. Lyrics aside, the important things is that the songs are as catchy as kissing disease and way more fun. Throw "Mouth to Mouth," "I Hate the 80's," the title track, and "Such a Fool" on a mixtape and they'll be instant highlights. Kelly and McKee still sound perfect singing together, trading lines like a woozy Nancy and Lee or singing in sweet harmony. Only this time they sound less like young lovers and more like old friends, thanks to the context. So many comebacks end up being embarrassing or lame that it's easy to write them off without even hearing the result. Sex with an X is proof that Kelly and McKee were right to get back together, and while they don't pick up exactly where they left off, it's close enough to make their fans, both old and new, ecstatic.
Performance CreditsVaselines Primary Artist
Eugene Kelly Guitar,Vocals,Group Member
Frances McKee Guitar,Vocals,Group Member
Stevie Jackson Guitar
Bob Kildea Bass Guitar
Michael McGaughrin Drums
Technical CreditsJamie Watson Producer
Frances McKee Composer
E. Kelly Composer
Julie McLarnon Engineer
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
It's hard to believe The Vaselines only made a couple of EPs and just one full-length album twenty years ago. However, their influence was certainly felt on those who heard them. Chief among them was one Kurt Cobain, whose band, Nirvana, covered "Molly's Lips", "Son of a Gun" and perhaps most dramatically "Jesus Doesn't Want Me For A Sunbeam". It's easy to see why Nirvana liked them so much. This Scottish band played pop music that was simple, childlike, almost like a lullaby. Yet, they played it raw and noisy. Unlike many other grunge rock bands who played it soft-loud-soft-loud, singer-songwriters Eugene Kelly and Frances McKee played it loud all the way. They very well could have started "noise pop" as we know it. "Sex With An X" is only their second full-length album and their first one in twenty years. It not only makes one wish Kurt Cobain were alive to hear it but it's refreshing to see that The Vaselines haven't missed a bit when it comes to makes loud and timeless music very much the way The Ramones did. Although this record does have it share of noise pop ("Ruined" and the hilariously pointed "I Hate The 80's"), it also some quieter tunes that work just well, such as "The Devil's Inside Me" and "Overweight But Over You" (there's a perfect kiss-off title!). They even leave you wanting more when they finish off with "Exit The Vaselines". Let's hope that we don't have to wait another twenty years for a great record like this one to come around.