The Vines: Future primitive (2011)

Os voy a contar una de mis pasiones: me encantan las series de televisión. Particularmente las sitcom inteligentes. ¿Por qué os digo ésto? Porque con The Vines está ocurriendo algo que suele ocurrir en muchas de las series que suelo ver: que cíclicamente echan mano de una serie de recursos ya aparecidos previamente en capítulos de otras series de corte semejante. Ésto probablemente ocurra porque muchos de los guionistas sean los mismos, o sencillamente porque “toman prestados” argumentos que han funcionado previamente. The Vines son ya un grupo veterano, van ya por su quinto álbum de estudio, y les está ocurriendo ésto: están comenzando a echar mano de recursos que ya les han funcionado previamente en sus cuatro trabajos anteriores. Ésto no estaría mal si Craig Nicholls, su cabeza pensante no fuera un tipo con verdadero talento para la composición o si fueran The Ramones, que publicaron la tira de discos tirando de temas de tres y cuatro acordes. The Vines ha sido una banda a la que le hemos profesado verdadero cariño y a la que le hemos perdonado estos detalles, pero cuando escribes tu quinto álbum esperas mucho más que una mera reiteración de estilos y de fórmulas que ya conocemos. Es cierto que en este Future primitive, Nicholls ha ampliado algo el espectro, utilizando elementos electrónicos en su música (Outro, Future primitive, S.T.W.), pero la fórmula de la mera adición de elementos Grunge con riffs garajeros o sesenteros junto con medio tiempos comienza a desgastarse. Y todo ello no quiere decir que en Future primitive no haya buenos temas, que los hay: All that you do, Cry, Candy flippin´girl, Gimme love… es sólo que nos suenan demasiado.

The Vines – Future primitive (2011)

“Essentially, the problem lies in that it’s almost as though that Asperger Syndrome has caused him to be so comfortable with the ‘familiar’ that he’s written the same album five times, with varying degrees of success. It’s almost as though he’s trying to perfect the idea of The Vines in recorded form, at the denigration of his obvious talent. For instance, Future Primitive’s first ‘slow’ tune, Leave Me In The Dark, could be off any Vines album – there’s a lot to be said for consistency, but also, conversely, for stagnation and a lack of artistic evolution.
Where Nicholls and The Vines excel is with thrashy pop that hurtles headlong into a wall of classic rock ‘n” roll, with added liberal slashes of punk – see Ride, Outtathaway, Fuck The World etc – here represented by album highlight Gimme Love or the hazy brilliance of S.T.W. That still shines brightly, and remains the band’s finest calling card.
But these generalised romantic platitudes and slacker ‘fuck everybody’ ideals are extremely limited, especially when it’s a band’s fifth album. Band’s such as The Ramones could get away with it, because no one, especially the band themselves, expected or wanted anything further than three chords and pithy lyrics. The Vines, however, have obvious talent, especially in Nicholls – they could be great, but we’re still waiting for them to write a great record.
The problem is, every song, beyond the heaving-riffage of Black Dragon or frantic-scifi-punk fury of Future Primitive leaves you wanting to explore more of the band – for the songs to have some hint of a depth of insight or meaning to them, beyond simply a quick glimpse into Nicholls’ obviously turbulent – and admittedly fascinating – mind.
Even on All That You Do – the best ballad Nicholls has written, and the moment on the record – he’s closed off and he writes in obtuse, and sometimes completely literal, metaphor, which in turn loses all its imbued meaning. It’s like when M.A.S.H. started having episodes where it turned into 24 minutes of waiting for Alan Alda to come up with a one liner – that one liner and all that happens in the lead up to it, suddenly doesn’t mean anything.
Because The Vines still insist on building songs like Weird Animals or Riverview Avenue into such a distinctly ‘Vines’ framework – where a hint of something different is alluded to, but not explored beyond the two minutes of the song – it remains tough for the band to make an emotional attachment. Because when they don’t seem to really want to, the natural instinct is also to resist.
There’s a distance there, where the band themselves almost don’t want to let you in – as though as they’ve matured, they’ve almost become wary of opening themselves too much, to prevent… what exactly? They could be a band for the ages – if we got to know them. After five albums, it still doesn’t feel like we’ve got any insight into The Vines whatsoever. Johnny Lawrence learnt his lesson, you wonder when The Vines will” (

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