Review Summary: Little differences go a long way for The Vines fifth record.
Aussie rockers The Vines have spent the last eight years or so retreading and recycling their breakout debut album 'Highly Evolved' to ever diminishing effect. Fast becoming a tired legacy, the band's last album 'Melodia' was a joke of a record; tuneless self parody of the lowest order.
Thankfully, fifth album 'Future Primitive' is the first album in quite some time to shake things up a bit. We're not talking about a full-on change of tact here, but more of a few subtle additions to the usual recipe. Whilst this might not be overwhelming news, trust in the fact that ANYTHING even remotely different by The Vines is both unusual and very, very welcome.
Songwriting-wise, 'Future Primitive' still hits all the same old notes. There are still only really two songs on offer here. The fast one ('Gimme Love', 'Black Dragon') and the blissed out ballad ('Leave Me In The Dark', 'All That You Do'). Everything is also still shunted and squeezed into the usual two minute format, with the lightweight, vapid feel that defined the previous two records still in effect. So nothing much to shout home about so far...
But what does seperate this LP from prior works is the fact that a little bit more attention has gone into the production and engineering side of things. Firstly, the previous "Wham-bam-thank-you-mamn" punk production has been thrown out in favor of a more reverb heavy styling, which immediately gives the album a different tone. This works particularly well on some of the more overtly melodic songs like 'A.S 4' and 'Leave Me In The Dark', which have an almost shoe-gazey soundscape to them.
Other minor additions like the phazing guitars on 'Candy Flippin' Girl', The sparse bass synth on title track 'Future Primitive' and the electronica and beats coda of 'All That You Do' succeed in making this record a bit more distinct than previous efforts. Yet in an ironic twist, when the band do properly push the boat out on the experimental and confusingly titled 'Outro' (confusing because it is neither an outro nor the last song on the album), they fall flat on their face with the worst track that they ever put out. From what I can figure, the song is just a string of samples taken from the other tracks on the record and stitched together to form an awful random mess. It sounds like a monkey playing around with some recording software.
That blip aside, 'Future Primitive' is a fairly decent album and a step back in the right direction for The Vines. It isn't a classic record by any means, and doesn't even top the band's first three albums, but it does do enough to distinguish itself, and provides an entertainingly trippy summer nugget of blissed out pop.