The Vines - Highly Evolved 
Music Disc Reviews Audio CD
Written by Bryan Dailey   
Tuesday, 16 July 2002

The Vines

Highly Evolved
format: CD
label: Capitol Records
release year: 2002
performance: 8
sound 7
reviewed by: Bryan Dailey

Can anyone tell the difference between The Vines, The Hives, The Strokes or The White Stripes? This might be tougher feat than trying to pick an N’ Synch member out of a police lineup filled with Backstreet Boys and O Towners. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that the latest trend in alternative rock is high-energy punk garage pop with some Clash, Kinks and early Rolling Stones influences. Australia’s pop/rock sensation The Vines are riding this musical wave up the charts with their Capital Records release Highly Evolved.

Not quite as raw as the White Stripes, not as spastic as The Hives and less retro than The Strokes, The Vines’ sound is more polished and might be the best introduction to this new wave of music. Most of the youngens who are hearing this music for the first time probably have no idea that this isn’t a new sound. Much like bellbottoms came back around for a brief stint, so do styles of music. In the ‘60s, bands started to crank the amps and get a little loud. Distortion came in the form of cutting guitar amp speakers to make them rattle when strumming big chords or overloading the mixing board. A new sound was born and the kids wanted to rock. Perhaps the kids are over the heavy sounds of rap/metal and want to hear some good rocking garage bands like their parents did in the late ‘60s.

The Vines song you probably know best from its massive amounts of airplay on the radio and on MTV is “Get Free.” It’s a full-on two-minute-and-six-second punk metal blast that is short, sweet and rocks harder than cuts from any of the other bands in the genre. At the 2002 MTV Video Music awards, The Vines rocked this song out on the stage right next to The Hives. Superman was never seen in the same place as Clark Kent, but after seeing the two bands on stage right next to each other, I can assure you that The Vines and The Hives are actually two entirely different groups. (However, there is no official word yet that The Strokes are not actually The White Stripes.)

The Vines are mostly about the rock, but they can also get on the ballad tip from time to time. On “Autumn Shade,” “Homesick” and “Mary Jane,” they show their more sensitive side with soft melodic performances. Singer Craig Nicholls’ Australian accent comes through the most on these slower songs, but his look is that of a waif English rock star. The band goes for the intentionally retro look and pulls it off convincingly. Black and white photos of the band would look right at home in a book of rock ‘n’ roll history right next to The Who or Rolling Stones circa 1969.

Needless to say, people will surely get tired of this genre and will have moved on to the next big thing in a few months, but for now, The Vines will soak in being the flavor of the month. If you don’t have any of the albums by the new wave of punk pop retro rockers, The Vines’ Highly Evolved would be a good start.

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