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The Vines

Highly Evolved

Release Date: 07.16.02
Record label: Capitol
Genre(s): Movies, Film Scores, Musicals, Etc.


by: bill aicher

In recent British mags you'd be hard-pressed to avoid any mention of The Vines and they're status as the supposed "future of rock 'n' roll." Their debut album, Highly Evolved was the talk of the rags for months before even hitting stores; it was supposed to usher in a new era in rock music. Unfortunately, all this talk was for the most part just that - talk.

To be fair from the outset, Highly Evolved showcases The Vines as an excellent band. You'd be hard-pressed to find problems in their playing, and even the songwriting is fairly strong. The problem here is an overall lack of cohesion and direction.

With their debut single, "Get Free," the band is being hailed as the best hard-edged grunge rock since Bleach-era Nirvana, and it's a fair assertion. Also fair are the assertions of the band's Beatles-esque acoustic feel. Songs like "Homesick" and "Mary Jane" are unbelievably fantastic ballads featuring piano lines, searing guitars, and spectacular vocal harmonizations. Each song is excellent in it's own right, yet together they act as nothing more than a collection of songs.

There's a lot to be said about being compared so religiously to obvious influences such as The Beatles and Nirvana, and The Vines do much more than simply rip-off their styles as so many bands (see Nickelback, etc.) have done with their influences. They act as more than a a cover band with different lyrics; their songwriting is definitely excellent. Where the band starts running into problems is in finding it's own voice. It's one thing to be able to play so excellently in the style of your influences, it's another thing to find your own voice. The Vines still have to find theirs.

Highly Evolved showcases everything classic rock 'n' roll has taught us, yet it rarely takes us anyplace new. By so abruptly changing styles between tracks, the listener is treated to a jarring listening experience which can greatly detract from enjoyment of an album as a whole. Surely these songs work on their own, but The Vines are sorely in need of finding a direction and sticking to it.

There's no doubt they'll be bringing us countless more albums, so our advice to them is this: Take your time exploring and give us a few larger packages in the future, don't feel you have to prove yourselves - you've already done that. 24-Jul-2002 10:00 PM