Highly Evolved Label: Capitol
Highly Evolved is simply a great record from The Vines. They are a stunning new quartet from Sydney, Australia that is punching through in America. The songs are fab…and short. I mean short! In a 20-minute morning commute, long before your hot coffee gets warm, you'll find yourself halfway through this new disc. The title track, "Highly Evolved," in all its brilliance, requires but two minutes to grab your grunge rock ear.
You see, frontman Craig Nicholls is a dead ringer for Kurt Cobain when he wants to be, and on this first attempt he forces early Nirvana, and I'm talking pre-Nevermind. "Outtathaway" stays the course with three chords of garage thrash and Nicholls' wailing above it all. But the songs aren't just fast-track Seattle noise; they're good. Real good! "Autumn Shade" sports acoustic guitars, pianos and toxic harmonies that Scott Weiland and the Stone Temple Pilots would have killed for. Then "Homesick" flirts between Ben Folds and The Beatles, displaying the range and veteran where-with-all that most twenty-something rockers only read about.
"Get Free" plugs in and gets right back with the full-bore, axe-grinding recipe of Nirvana (remember these boys put themselves through school playing Nirvana covers in Australia pubs). "She never loved me, she never loved me, she never loved me, why should anyone," even revisits some of the closet angst that we all now realize ran deep in the soul and songs of Cobain and fellow mentors like Layne Staley. Let's just hope that musical stylings are all that these Aussies borrow from their predecessors.
Want variety? The riff-happy "Factory" is clearly a product of four lads who wish they had scribed "Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da", while "Ain't No Room" is more The Strokes on acid. Either way, these brash, young newcomers are fearless in their rock and roll game plan. Considering they were in grade school when the Seattle grunge scene erupted, I've got to believe they are amazingly quick studies. Like their mentors, their time frame is the big question mark. But what a remarkable first footprint they've left!