REVIEW: The Vines – Future Primitive

the_vines_shot01_211_credit_sophie_howarth

Artist: The Vines
Album: Future Primitive
Genre: Rock
Label: Sony

The Vines have had a long and checkered history since their inception in the early 90s as a Nirvana tribute band. What’s most fascinating to me however is their longevity, given how spectacularly uninteresting they’re capable of being. With this in mind, Future Primitive can be described as a noble effort, with some stellar moments, albeit one that is unfortunately marred in several places by a horribly pervasive pristine blandness. In short, when it entertains, it’s awesome; but when it’s boring, it’s horrific.

“Gimme Love,” the video for which premiered in March of this year, makes for a fairly solid opening song. It has a certain familiarity to it, with hints of heard-this-before, but it is brash and exuberant with madly exhilarating vocals. If they wanted to start a party, this is quite a reliable hit. The two songs that follow similarly flourish in their mixing of tone and elements – “Leave Me In the Dark” is moodier, with a very intense and dramatic sense of emotion. The music is stripped back yet emphatic in its own way, the thick and foggy sound used to complement the palpable lyrics. “Candy Flippin Girl” is of the same vibe, though the music is brasher with loud and stirring percussion acting as a striking contrast to the laconic vocals.

This opening trio are quite brief, clocking in at 2-2.5 minutes each, and this brevity is a kind of double edged sword. For all that it ensures tedium never kicks in with the banal sound, it also means they’re too fleeting, and one doesn’t have the chance to engage or connect with the music before it segues into the next song. However, that said, this does mean they make for an invigorating first act – and indeed some of the later songs could do with trimming.

“A.S.4.A.S.4.,” its utterly mad title aside, is a stealthy number. It’s slow, almost deadpan, and seems like nothing at first but builds up charm as it progresses. Most potently, it succeeds in creating a genuinely pervasive mood and atmosphere that absorbs the listener almost involuntarily. The extra time taken to create this attachment lets the song stand out, while it ends on a superb sample of vocal effects that sounds sinister and yet intoxicating. Future Primitive, a little further on, succeeds also. It’s keen and ballsy with a consistent pace that ought to make it a crowd pleaser. It has a slightly surreal, otherworldly air to it, with a sense of urgency as though racing against something, and some vaguely space age sound effects for added emphasis. The guitar is particularly striking here, shimmering throughout with a bright and cutting eagerness.

“Black Dragon” is also worthy of mentioning, though it’s hit and miss. It starts off with a magnificent bass line, with kooky effects playing off one another vividly. The vocals aren’t overdone and it’s cool and catchy. However, the final minute or so could easily have been trimmed or cut altogether, as the song fades into oblivion with a full minute of bizarre sampling that utterly destroys its momentum. Unfortunately, its moments like this that undo the excellent work elsewhere, as the album is just as capable of sounding insipid as it is brilliant. “Riverview Animal” is another example, with forced vocals and unimaginative structuring. “All That You Do” is horrible, a bizarrely distant afterthought sounding much like a junkie love story, with a lengthy fade out of meaningless noise.

“Outro” is another offender – in fairness, it’s obviously meant to act as a lull before the final act, but its vacuous wailing and weird humming is a test of endurance that, at three and a half minutes, long outstays its welcome. Further, “Goodbye,” which follows, is painful. There’s barely any music to ease you in, and the nasal whinging which erupts instantaneously is just an insult to injury after the rigors of the previous track. The thought is nice, but it’s too grating for my liking.

Happily however, for their concluding track, the band rediscover their glamour with S.T.W., a thrillingly spunky number with a toe-tapping beat that grounds it in swagger and sleaze. Tis a far more adequate conclusion than the soggy second half of the album, and at least allows things to end with a jovial holler.

In conclusion, Future Primitive is a decent addition to the band’s catalogue. It certainly has its moments and will keep you top tapping throughout. Personally, I feel it will take a lot more to convince in the long term – but then again, if they’ve made it this far, there must be a certain je ne sais quoi that I’m just not discerning.

Score: 6/10
Review written by: Grace Duffy

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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  • paul

    It’s Reviervew Avenue*. AW, agreed, average album.