Album Reviews

The Vines – Vision Valley

(Craig Nicholls) UK release date: 3 April 2006

2004’s Winning Days was somewhatindifferently received after The Vines’ ´┐Żber-successful debut, Highly Evolved. With third album Vision Valley and after two years away from the limelight, The Vines will hopeto cement their reputation as a major force in punk rock, something that Winning Days failed to do.

The first offering from Vision Valley was the arguably confusing GrossOut. Clocking in at just 78 seconds it was, for some, a strange singlerelease. In the context of the album however it is far more understandable.Sounding like a collision between Nirvana and Sex Pistols, Gross Out perfectlysummarises the kind of adrenaline fuelled, temperamental ferocity that hasdefined The Vines’ career thus far.

The opening assault too is rather fleeting, before you know it Anysound,Nothin’s Comin’, and Candy Daze have flown past in a mere five and a halfminutes and we’re into the middle of the album. Anysound is a brilliantopener, based around a quirky, kitsch guitar riff it hints at a return toform for the wizards of Oz. Nothin’s Comin’ sees a disturbing verse swell toclassic Vines territory for the chorus where Nicholls’ guitar sounds likeit’s just made the transition from caged animal to wild beast. Candy Daze isagain boisterous in nature and sees the employment of a retro sounding organto add a different element to the sometimes predictable Vines sound.

It isn’t until the title track that we see some respite from the anarchy.String-laden, acoustic guitar, beautiful. It represents a welcome dose ofchange after being half pummelled to death by the first three songs andexhibit’s a growing maturity in The Vines’ songwriting.

Other highlights include the rampant Don’t Listen To The Radio, Fuk Yeh,and Dope Train. Take Me Back is another go at something more downtempo butrapidly grows tiresome and is ultimately disappointing, whilst Going Gone ishighly reminiscent of Highly Evolved’s Autumn Shade.

If one thing is underlined, highlighted, and spelt out in capital lettersits that The Vines are very much better at raw, rowdy, energetic rock songsthan they are at slowed-down, stripped-down ballads – which just sound voidof any real passion. Its as if The Vines are writing these songs becausethey feel they have to, not because they want to, but if they’re going tosound as half-arsed as they do then why not stick to what they do best andrelease an album full of frenzied anarchic rock songs?

It is, however, brilliant to hear the voice of Craig Nicholls again, hisspasmodic, snotty delivery more spasmodic and snotty than ever, a “fuck you”delivery sneered to anyone in it’s path. His voice is something drasticallyunderrated by the media and the public alike, but can you really imagineThe Vines without the voice of Nicholls?

Apart from developing on the stock Vines sound a bit, Vision Valleydoesn’t really offer anything new or exciting. There’s nothing here that youcan’t obtain from either of the previous albums and it’s still some way offthe musical gem that is Highly Evolved. That record is poppy by comparison,with an unexpected slow burn that renders it still exciting today. VisionValley’s biggest problem is that it has very few songs that grab you and bury themselves in the core of your memory. Could be better.

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More on The Vines
The Vines – Wicked Nature
The Vines – Vision Valley
The Vines – Winning Days
The Vines – Highly Evolved

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