The Vines - Vision Valley
After the release of "Winning Days", few would have thought that The Vines could continue. With the band in complete disarray and a lead singer whose antics on stage often ruined gigs completely, they disappeared into the night, seemingly gone forever. However, they are back with this, their third studio album. In the meantime, Craig Nicholl's behaviour has been explained in part by the diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome, a brain disorder that causes the sufferer to exhibit autistic-like behaviour and struggle with communication and social skills. One of the consequences of this means that they will not be touring this album, which has led to a rather muted response.
One thing you can say about "Vision Valley" - it doesn't outstay it's welcome. Clocking in at a little over 30 minutes (6 of which are taken up by the last track), this is a fast, punchy album. At times though, it just sounds like Diet Nirvana, especially on "Nothin's Comin'", a real Seattle sound-a-like. It is in the faster, heavier tracks that this album fails, as we've all heard it many times before, but done a lot better.
However, in its slower moments, Nicholl's song writing skills really shine. Title track "Vision Valley" is very good indeed, strings set against a mild guitar sound, with a fine melody. Another highlight is "Take Me Back", which has a lovely "Teenage Fanclub" sound to it, gentle strumming and some great vocals. "Going Gone" is also full of excellent sounds and a laid back, sleepy feel.
Of the harder tracks, "Don't Listen to the Radio" and "Fuk Yeh" are two of the better ones, well recorded with a passionate sound. "Dope Train" is also pretty good, with a real American sound, a little old-fashioned maybe, sounding more like The Vines of old. Album closer "Spaceship" is a real epic, but more for the sake of it, drifting along but never really going anywhere.
I hope that The Vines enjoyed making this album, and that even it may have been good for Nicholls to have a release, to be able to put his thoughts into songs. However, it is nothing really that special, nothing that hasn't been done before and, while there are some good moments, nothing to set it apart from the rest.