Pop CD: The Vines, Vision Valley


Focused, coherent, connected - not words you'd have expected to apply to the Vines' comeback album, which arrives 18 months after singer Craig Nicholls' Asperger syndrome diagnosis.

The press release makes such lurid play of his condition ("deranged yelps", "wailing wreck") that it seems miraculous he even persisted in writing songs, let alone was able to turn them into possibly the best 31 garage-rock minutes you'll hear this year.

This (rather than their mediocre second album) should be taken as the follow-up to their hyped-to-the-heavens 2002 debut, because with Vision Valley the Vines fulfil the promise they showed as the former "Australian Strokes".

Nicholls is detached and dreamy when the occasion demands it (Take Me Back and Going Gone exemplify the group's soft, harmony-drenched side), excitingly arrogant and Iggy Poppish when it doesn't.

The retro-rocking Anysound may kick off with Nicholls declaring, "I am a Vine, all twisted and frayed," but on this album, he doesn't sound in need of sympathy.


Caroline Sullivan

The GuardianTramp

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