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THE VINES Best Of EMI (2008)

The Vines

It is often an indication that a band has either run out of material or split up when their label pushes out the obligatory 'Best of' album. But for Australian adrenalin rockers The Vines it's more a case of regrouping and refocusing on better days as their stop-start career kicks into a third - post EMI and post vocalist Craig Nicholls' personal traumas - phase.

They may for all I know be a little piqued by this EMI compilation especially in view of their imminent brand new 'Brain Dead' release. But given the band's fragmented career this isn't a bad reminder of some of their best moment so far.

The seventeen tracks come in the main from the critically acclaimed 'Evolved' debut album and the cooler received 'Winning Ways' follow up. Only four tracks come from the last 'Vision Valley' CD which in truth gives a slightly misleading impression of the band's output.

The early career frisson of 'Get Free', 'High Evolved', the brilliantly titled 'Outtathaway' and the TV advert 'Ride' (let's overlook the irony of being usurped by TV ads) combine high energy Grunge with psychedelic Garage Rock, whereas the last album features the almost proggy 'Spaceship' and the impressive title track, a melodic ballad that comes close to The Connells.

And if it was a valid criticism that 'Winning Ways' revisited much of the style of the debut then surely tracks like 'Animal Machine' simply raised the bar? The Vines were always a prime example of contrasting styles, one part the post-punk anger of say 'FTW' and the other contrasting reflective harmonies of 'Autumn Shade 11'.

Looking back, they were almost handicapped at the outset both by the 'New Nirvana' press headlines as much as by the sheer ferocity of their debut album. The Vines were undoubtedly more than mere bluster in search of a song, but somewhere down the line the impetus to mature as a band was lost in the cliché rock and roll headlines of Nicholls' antics. You hope there is more in the tank from this impressive Australian band whose main problem seems to be that having recycled a number of enjoyable genre's they haven't gone on to patent their own style.


Review by Pete Feenstra

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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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