Album Review by Mark Bayross
The arrival of the The Vines’ debut album is bound to stir a many rock fan’s curiosity as the Aussie four piece have been on the receiving end of much music press hype recently. Unfortunately these days, when stars are made and destroyed in the flick of an NME scribe’s pen, the weight of being compared to a legendary band like Nirvana can only backfire eventually.
Certainly, there are moments on HIGHLY EVOLVED when the band really do hit that vital level of noise-fuelled excitement, not least when current single GET FREE arrives kicking and screaming mid-way through the album. And Craig Nicholls’ much talked-about Kurt Cobain delivery doesn’t take long to impress – he drawls his way through the opening title track (and debut single) like it’s an out-take from IN UTERO.
But, aside from the raucous OUTTATHAWAY!, AIN’T NO ROOM and IN THE JUNGLE, there’s very little here to please scream fans. Much of HIGHLY EVOLVED evokes the immediacy of The Beatles, but whereas Nirvana injected Beatles melody with sarcasm and self-hating bile, The Vines have a much sunnier, more Australian outlook on life.
So, the swirling electronics of SUNSHININ’ and piano-driven whimsy of MARY JANE positively glow with sun-bleached euphoria, while even bittersweet laments like the Beach Boys-esque HOMESICK have a melody that can’t fail to put a smile on your face. If these boys remind you of anyone, it’s Supergrass – infectious, impulsive, radiating warmth.
The band probably sound their most accomplished on the closing (and at six and a half minutes, longest) track 1969, as they shift effortlessly through their musical palette before fading out in a haze of psychedelic guitar. If any song sums up The Vines it’s this one – wistful and unruly all at once.
Provided no-one’s expecting the miraculous return of Cobain, this should be one of this summer’s omnipresent albums.