Craig Nicholls has come a long way since 1994 when he was working at McDonald’s and starting a band in his spare time. By 2001 Australian group The Vines were riding the same rock n roll wave that made our Datsuns famous. But like The Datsuns, The Vines have struggled to recapture their initial success. Mental health issues have plagued the band (Nicholls has been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome), and record companies have come and gone, but the biggest problem facing the band is that Nicholls is still a die-hard Blur fan in a world where music trends have moved on.
The twelve tracks on Future Primitive are a combination of songs that reference 90s Britpop and songs that reference 60s rock & roll. Unfortunately The Vines may be a little ahead of the rest of us in their decision to veer more towards the 90s side of things. While many things about the 90s are so hot right now, Britpop is so not. The occasional unnecessary nod to dance music also makes the band sound as though they’ve somehow lost their way.
The album opens with the joyful, balls-out track Gimme Love, then strays into Oasis territory for a while, and then makes a comeback with the livelier Weird Animals – the most exciting track on the album with nods to punk, surf and metal.
From track ten, the Verve-esque All That You Do, the band lose their way. Outro could be an experimental film soundtrack and Goodbye initially sounds like a folk parody. Thankfully the band returns to form with closing track S.T.W.
The Vines may be a bit bewildered about genre fusion and their lyrics may not invite deep analysis, but their latest offering is high spirited and good fun. Future Primitive is like a confused but very well-intentioned puppy that wants to run up to you and lick your face. Aw, good dog.
Kathryn van Beek http://www.joyriderpromotions.com/
Click here to listen to Gimme Love from Future Primitive: