The Vines - Highly Evolved

With the ghost of Kurt Cobain looming in the background, The Vines frontman Craig Nichol's has already been tagged with the unlucky moniker of bloke most likely too. This wouldn't normally be a problem if the phrase only referred to being the next international superstar instead of having the nervous break down and suicide connotations implied when you mention him in the same breath as Cobain and Richey Manic. Not that there isn't certain similarity between all three is that they were all unlikely icons in the sense that they'd all have rather sat in the studio writing and recording rather than out on the road for a 12 month stretch of tour bus - venue - drink - same again - brain numbing monotony.

In between munching fast food and chain smoking Nichols might just have written the best debut album in the last 10 years. While there are certain limitations to White Stripes set up, a certain shallowness to the Strokes and a lame indieness with anything coming out of Britain right now- the Vines aim higher yet still each line is delivered with an impassioned roar and with the sort of intent that it will truly be his last message to the world. The singles "Highly Evolved" and "Get Free" only offer a very one dimensional side to the band which fit in perfectly with the likes of "OuttaThaWay!" and "In The Jungle" yet at the same time would become tedious if that's all they had to offer. "Homesick" starts off with a simple piano motif and then slowly builds up to an almost country tinged Neil Young refrain of "Nothing really matters", while "Mary Jane" with its psychedelic spiralling guitar builds up and drops out to just an acoustic guitar and vocals.

It's not hard to see why the Vines are being hailed as the saviours of rock, but you get the sense that the quest for perfection on the second album will send Nichol's down the same route as Beach Boy Brian Wilson. It's not that he can't live with real life or to a certain extent the rigours of touring, but there's almost a feeling that musically there's a symphony trying to fight it's way out while the record company will simply want more of the same old. It's that compromise that will eventually either lead Craig Nichol's to being either an eccentric superstar or to totally reject the trappings of the record industry and set about recording his symphony's in a home studio for his own pleasure. Let's just hope for our sakes he takes the former route as the world would be a hell of a duller place without the Vines.

Alex McCann

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