No less an authority on the irrelevance of Importance than the Flaming Lips’ frontman Wayne Coyne said in a recent MOJO interview, “Rock bands put too much emphasis on the idea that someone’s actually interested in them. People are too busy.” He wasn’t referring directly to the Vines, but he might as well have been. Hyped by the British press as the second coming of (Insert Appropriately Historic Former Buzz Band Name Here), the Aussie quartet has all of the right elements in place for FM stardom — including a nearly complete inability to be surprising in any way. If the Vines are Garage Rock’s answer to Silverchair, it would seem that the three-chords-and-a-Detroit-reference revolution is in its endgame phase and should wrap up its current regurgitative burst by spring. (Oh, joy, the Vines just entered the Billboard album charts at #11).
That’s not to say that there aren’t moments of pure rock goodness on Highly Evolved. Nope. The title cut is a fuckin’ great single, distilling all that was good about where the Stone Temple Pilots were headed before they imploded into irrelevance — a synthesis of the glamorous and the clamorous wrapped up in two minutes of cocksure bliss. “Outtathaway!”’s gangly point-counterpoint is catchy, and the Vines hold back on the cliché Chorus Bluster enough to save the whole.
But too often all there is here are the ghosts of rock greatness past trotted out with a bit of seemingly unquenchable thirst for glory. And we all know how that’s bound to end by the third album (assuming they make it through the sophomore slump). Sound and fury only get you so far when neither aspire to anything rock hasn’t seen 15 times in the last five years. Highly Evolved? Um, nope.
E-mail Chris Handyside at firstname.lastname@example.org.