Album Review: “Wicked Nature” by The Vines

At first glance, The Vines’ newest release Wicked Nature brings just one phrase to mind: “Ain’t nobody got time for that.” In an age of 30-second samples and radio edits, is there really a place for such a huge collection of tracks? The double-album’s lengthy 22-song track list is daunting to say the least. But for a band once heralded as “the new Nirvana” (presumably by some overzealous, gun-jumping journalist), these 22 tracks are worth a listen.

The Vines have accomplished much over their 12 years as a band, (unfortunately, retaining their original lineup was not one of these accomplishments) but Wicked Nature marks a new era in the band’s career. Not only is the album boldly massive, but the Australian trio released it on their own brand new label, Wicked Nature Music. Adding to the DIY nature of the album, vocalist Craig Nicholls acted as producer for disc two.

Wicked Nature draws listeners in right away with “Metal Zone,” which opens with eerie and repetitive “Ah’s” from Nicholls. Later on, the track takes a turn for the heavy when these droning vocalizations turn into screams. Right out of the gate, listeners get the sense there’s more to The Vines than their indie cover art suggests. This band is heavy, this band gets grungy and this band is not to be overlooked.

As the albums plays on, it’s clear The Vines are playing off their name with a collection of nature-themed tracks, including “Green Utopia,” “Ladybug,” “Killing the Planet” and “Venus Fly Trap.” Although the titles serve as a link, the tracks themselves differ lyrically and musically .

“Killing the Planet” is a hypnotic slow jam with jarring lyrics: “It’s always, it’s always the same / We forget how to give / So we take.” On the other hand, “Green Utopia” is a snarling Sex Pistols sound-alike that may or may not reference recreational drug use.

Disc one closes with “Into the Fire” and disc two opens with “Reincarnation” (subtle, yeah?), where Nicholls’ droning “Ah’s” are reprised. “Love is Gone” follows, a catchy but repetitive track in which Nicholls’ screams are encored. The second half of the album slogs on with more decent reprisals and repeats until “Clueless,” a truly boring ballad unlike anything that appears on disc one.

Wicked Nature is an earful. Throughout its 22 tracks, The Vines prove that they are, in a word, dynamic–if not just a bit long-winded. Their initial relentless grunge vibe is tempered with angst-y ballads and surf-rock riffs. Nicholls and his cohorts share the spotlight: In some songs, the guitar chugs on so intensely that Nicholls can hardly be heard, except for a few effectual vocalizations. Just one song later, however, Nicholls’ vocals take center stage as he screams and sneers his way through each note.

Wicked Nature is a fun listen and it’s understandable that The Vines felt the need to burst back on the scene in a big way. However, they should have pared down their track list and released a B-sides album; twenty-two tracks are just too many all at once. In short, Wicked Nature is like a roller coaster ride you’re going to be waiting in line a long time for. It’s still a fun ride, but is it really worth the wait?

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