The Vines

Wicked Nature

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Usually, a double album signals one of two things: it's either an artist's ambitious magnum opus or the height of indulgence. In the Vines' case, it is neither. Wicked Nature sprawls over the course of two LPs but it plays as if the band just jammed two standard-issue Vines albums together -- which is kind of true, as the two LPs were recorded at different times with different engineers, completing the second record as the first was being mixed. Neither album on Wicked Nature sounds like they come from a different session but neither sounds incoherent, either. All 22 songs here sound cut from the same cloth as all the Vines' other five studio albums, the one constant in them all being leader Craig Nicholls' undying love for cleaning up Nirvana's grunge. He spikes this with a little bit of the '60s, ranging from garage stomps to candied psychedelic swirls, an influence that has become more prominent as the years roll on, but at the root of everything is Nicholls' worship of Kurt Cobain, which surfaces via his yowl and recycling of the minor chords from "About a Girl." He's doing this about as well as he ever has -- he has highs, he has some lows, but spends most of his time somewhere in between -- largely because he's doing it the same he always has. No matter the lineup, no matter the year, Nicholls puts the sounds of 1993 through the prism of 2003. As pure sound, it can offer a bit of a clean, digitally distorted rush, but the never-changing moods can become wearying, particularly when there are two albums paired up against each other.

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