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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 21 August 2018

Review: The Vines 'In Miracle Land' go over old ground 

There's a sense of deja vu with Australian rockers seventh album

Frontman Craig Nicholls is the only ever-present in the band Getty Images
Frontman Craig Nicholls is the only ever-present in the band Getty Images

It was the turn of the century, and after a nineties chart populated largely by slickly produced pop and RnB, it was time for a change in the musical landscape. Enter a group of fresh-faced young bands from all around the globe with a shared love of garage rock, punk and distorted three-chord guitar riffs. They were also united by an apparent love of the definite article. From the United States, The Strokes and The White Stripes; from Sweden, The Hives; and from Australia, The Vines, who return here with their seventh studio album.

In the early 2000s, when these bands began bursting into the public consciousness, their scuzzy guitars, throwaway lyrics and sub-three-minute stomp-along songs were a breath of fresh air. In 2018, they’re not.While the sounds of their contemporaries have evolved – The Hives through working with hip-hop producers such as Timbaland and NERD, The Strokes by experimenting with samples and new production techniques and The White Stripes by simply splitting up and embarking on myriad new projects – with In Miracle Land The Vines have delivered an album that could easily be a collection of demos for their 2002 debut Highly Evolved, or any of the five albums in between.

Perhaps the band have been unfairly hindered by the revolving door of members since their debut. Frontman Craig Nicholls is the only ever-present in the band, and although the original line-up are now touring together again, this album was recorded by a previous line-up.

The album isn’t bad, though a strange programming decision to organise the track listing as “three-powerchord-stomper-minor chord ballad-repeat to the end” raises questions. The problem, though, is that if you’ve heard The Vines before, you’ve heard this album before.

The record starts strongly with the catchy and energetic Hate the Sound, then kills off any sense of urgency by slipping straight into the acoustic ballad Broken Heart, establishing the pattern for the rest of the album. There are high points. The Vines channel The Beatles, via The Stone Roses’ vocals on the title track, while the strongest song is the grungey Slide Away, which owes more than a passing nod to Nirvana with its razor guitar fuzz and anguished screams.

The words to Slide Away are telling, however. “I’ve got nothing to say,” Nicholls repeats. He’s being a bit harsh. He does have something to say, but he’s been saying it since 2002.

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The Vines - In Miracle Land
Two stars

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