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More hooks and harmony from The Vines

The Vines

The Vines - Winning Days
(Capitol Records)
3 1/2 (out of 5 stars)

Reviewed: Mar. 15, 2004

Review by Tony Bonyata

So what if Rolling Stone magazine mistakenly used them as the poster children for the garage rock renaissance a while back (as if anyone really expects this once-proud publication of well respected rock journalism to report on anything but the ABC's - Avril, Britney and Clay - of music these days anyway). The fact was that the Australian quartet The Vines did rock hard, whether they were the figurehead of a movement or not. Their debut release Highly Evolved was a double whammy of expertly crafted heavy pop rock injected with enough sneering teen angst to cause a rash of pimples on those long past puberty.
While musical brethren such as The White Stripes and The Strokes have stuck relatively close to their own secret formulas (Delta blues morphed into stripped down rock and cool, late '70s influenced New York post-punk, respectively) The Vines sophomore effort, Winning Days, finds them stretching their limbs beyond their successful first draft as they turn in a broader mix of music that's a bit warmer to the touch than their predecessor. Sure singer Craig Nicholls still brays like your younger brother when you wouldn't let him look at the back of the Cap'n Crunch box at the breakfast table (something that works well on record but comes off too heavy-handed and forced onstage) on "Animal Machine" and "[Expletive] The World," but he also turns in gentler acoustic moments that hint at (gulp!) folk rock on "Sun Child" and "Rainfall." And the catchy pop sensibilities and lush harmonies on the beautiful "Autumn Shade" and title track prove that these guys aren't just trying to cash in on the "return to rock" craze that they straddled in on a couple of years ago.
What also separates this decidedly more mature effort from their last album is the hallucinogenic effect that is laced throughout on the trippy, mosh pit pounce of "TV Pro" and psychedelic punk pop of "She's Got Something To Say" and "Amnesia."
Still filled with the heavy hooks and harmony they're known for, The Vines have covered up their oil-stained garage rock with a cozy multi-colored throw rug. And it looks pretty darn good.

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