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The Vines’ latest release combines many styles

Michael Tennant | Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Coming off its hit debut, “Highly Evolved,” The Vines look to rock the music world again two years later with their long-awaited sophomore release “Winning Days.”Hailing from Australia, The Vines bring together a mix of energetic garage-style rock and a very laid-back psychedelic brand of music, creating a sometimes confusing yet nonetheless solid second album. As the album bounces back and forth between in-your-face guitar rock and moody melodies, listeners find themselves in an angry crowd of teenage protesters one minute and in a black lit room filled with large and overly comfy couches the next. Although this apparent lack of cohesion at points could be a problem, most of the songs are individually strong enough to carry the album. The opening track and first single “Ride” is reminiscent of their last hit “Get Free” off of “Highly Evolved,” and draws you in immediately with one of the catchiest guitar riffs since Nirvana taught us what Teen Spirit smelled like. The simple chorus proves that sometimes less really is more.The energy from “Ride” is carried through similarly rocking tracks “Animal Machine” and “She’s Got Something To Say To Me” before peaking with “F.T.W.” Each of these tracks feature tight riffs and a garage-style that is just unique enough to get everyone to listen. Unfortunately, the energy is interrupted by numerous acoustic-based tracks that feature lead singer and songwriter Craig Nicholls’ poetic and often spacey lyrics.Songs like “Sun Child” and an apparent sequel from their first album, “Autumn Shade II” show a more melodic side to the band while giving Nicholls a chance to drift off to a nature-filled world where he can “forget about the engine of the rain,” and ponder the “colors of her dream.” Although these tracks hold their own, they sit the listener down in a recliner and light a few candles, making it near impossible to get back up once they kick on the distortion again.What helps these songs along is the great guitar playing of Nicholls and Ryan Griffiths, who both lay down solos that seem to wrap around each airy tune like a blanket. Inside the group’s collective Australian heart might be a jam band that occasionally peeks its head out to breath. The final song, and perhaps the best on “Winning Days,” “F.T.W.” kicks over the recliner and smashes the black light in a frenzy of fuzzy screaming vocals and eclectic guitars. Although somewhat pessimistic as it announces Nicholls’ and the rest of the band’s disgust with the world, the song is filled with enough energy to rival the entire rest of the album. At the very least, it is enough to bring the glossy-eyed wanderer back to reality after a trip into the world of daydreams.On the whole, the album is solid, but lacks cohesion in certain parts. The lyrics are also difficult to truly identify with, and even the seemingly simplistic “Ride” carries a poetic edge that leaves you pondering all your reasoning and motives. But maybe the listener just has to put himself in Nicholls’ shoes “to see the colors through [his] loaded mind.”

Contact Mike Tennant at [email protected]