The Vines

Future Primitive

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Hailed as the saviors of rock & roll by NME with their 2002 debut album, Highly Evolved, Australian quartet the Vines proved to be anything but, spending the rest of the decade virtually imploding amongst a worrying series of events involving frontman Craig Nicholls, including hurling abuse at his own fans, kicking photographers, and battling with severe mental health issues. After their biggest champions turned against them during the release of 2008's Melodia, the band appeared to have had a re-think, and instead of basically recording the same album for a fifth time, Future Primitive sees them experiment ever so slightly outside their usual comfort zone. Produced by Bumblebeez's Chris Colonna, their usual thrashy garage rock sound is still very much the default setting, as evident on the yelping brash opener "Gimme Love," the ferocious psychedelics of "Weird Animals," and the dirty bass-driven punk of the title track. However, as well as attempting to revive the early-'60s concept of the no-nonsense two-minute single (of which there are potentially several here), the album also draws in a whole host of influences from the same era, whether it's the Beach Boys-inspired harmonies of "Leave Me in the Dark," the reverb-drenched Beatles-ish melodies of spacy ballad "All That You Do," or the Dylan-esque acoustic folk of "Goodbye." Unfortunately, this newfound creative streak doesn't always pay off. "Black Dragon" is an aimless, feedback-drenched wall of noise that sounds like the record button was accidentally pressed during an uninspiring jam session, the confusingly titled "Outro" (track 11 of 13), is an equally self-indulgent slice of electro-tinged noodling, while "S.T.W." is a poor relation to Winning Days' "F.T.W.," which suggests Nicholls ran out of ideas toward the end. With such an unpredictable frontman, the Vines were always going to struggle to live up to the hyperbole, but while Future Primitive isn't going to set the world on fire, it's a step in the right direction from a band who had undeniably lost their way.

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