Vision Valley Label: Capitol Records
Craig Nicholls announces, “Candy daze are here to stay forever / they light the way and keep us all together” on “Candy Daze”, a typically brief, under-two-minute mission on Vision Valley, the third album from Australia’s Vines. This band apparently needed more than candy to survive these last couple years. 2002’s brilliant debut Highly Evolved had many in the rock journalist community ready to don these brats the greatest thing to come from down under since, uh, well, okay, how about Olivia Newton-John? But as hot as their engine was burning just four short years ago, it’s taken quite a lot of unexpected determination, positive energy, and medical know-how to get the Vines to this point.
While on tour for their sophomore release Winning Days in 2004, Nicholls’ bad boy behavior started getting in the way. He was arrested in Sydney and charged with assault following a drunken tirade onstage. Shortly thereafter, bassist Patrick Matthews left the band. As if things couldn’t possibly get worse, Nicholls was then diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a neurological disorder which is a form of Autism. The remaining members of the band stayed committed to the cause while their leader underwent months of evaluation and treatment. Early last year, Nicholls emerged with a new set of songs for the Vines to rally around. And so is Vision Valley.
Hardly a departure, vigorous guitar romps like “Anysound” and “Gross Out” pretty much pick up right where the previous Vines records have left off. Nicholls’ raspy wail still flies high over scores of punk rock riffs and furious beats. “Don’t Listen to the Radio” is the first single and it’s as giddy as anything here, trading edgy licks with playful, poppy hand claps. Other than the closing track “Spaceship,” a dreamy six-minute voyage, Vision Valley remixes the same Vines formula from years past. These guys have certainly mastered the art of delivering a dozen or so songs in less than 30 minutes. I guess crash, boom, bam really doesn’t require any more time.