Record Review: The Vines – Vision Valley

By Ari Schwartz

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“There’s no point in doin’ what I’ve done” sings a rejuvenated Craig Nicholls in The Vines new album ‘Vision Valley’. And just like that, they’re back!

It seems as though The Vines have found a way out of a 2 year long nightmare (bad press, bad behaviour, sickness, and breaking up), and into a recording studio full of courage and passion. It would have been very easy for EMI to have found a bunch of B-sides, put them into the mixer, and then release them as ‘rare material’. We would be able to sit back and feel sorry for the once great Vines. Instead, Craig Nicholls has come up with 13 scorching energy driven rock, punk, pop, ballad, psychedelic- call them what you want- songs. In a stunning turn-around, third album ‘Vision Valley’ is easily the best music these guys have released to date.

The album kicks off with the hand-clapping, guitar driven ‘Anysound’. Craig Nicholls wastes no time in telling all his critics what’s on his mind; “I am a Vine, all twisted and frayed”. The beauty of the song is that it is so dam catchy that even his worst critics can’t help but tap their feet along. Three explosive tracks later comes a slower, melodically based ballad. Full of three part harmonies, string arrangements, and strumming acoustic guitars. The title track doesn’t fall into the boring ‘strings/acoustic’ ballad category. Rather, the strings compliment Nicholls stunning voice, singing an even more stunning melody.

‘Don’t Listen To The Radio’ is pop at its finest; catchy rhythms with catchy melodies that refuse to lose their edge after the first listen. It’s odd, Craig Nicholls can write a song that lasts only 78 seconds, and it can be better crafted, more melodic, and have more passion then any song your local radio station will play all week. ‘Gross Out’ is The Vines back at their best; ruthless in their assault on pop music.

The second half of the album gets louder and more complex in terms of song structure. Sometimes lyrics only get in the way of the sheer grunt and attitude of a rock song, and in songs like ‘ Fuk Yeh’ and ‘Futuretarded’ the lyrics might not make any sense, but the music speaks volumes. This glorious comeback album ends with ‘Spaceship’, a six minute psychedelic epic that provides listeners with a view into what Nicholls might have in store for us a few albums down the track. By the sounds of this one, album four isn’t too far away.