Let’s get this out of the way, because it’s not something we’re too fond of doing. To those of you who bought the issue of NME dated July 23, 2002, please accept our sincerest and most unreserved apologies. Some of you may remember this issue as the one where we proclaimed a mentally imbalanced Antipodean as the de facto saviour of rock’n’roll and proceeded to indulge, over the course of innumerable pages and in a near-scientific discourse (right down to a diagram detailing how his watch – his watch – bestowed messianic power upon him) on why we were right. Well, we weren’t. The fault for the lonely winding down of The Vines’ curious career doesn’t lie solely at our feet – Craig Nicholls was always too trigger-happy with the self-destruct button to ensure that – but we certainly played our part. And for that we’re sorry. But nobody deserved ‘Melodia’.
The Vines’ fourth album, which they’re streaming free from their MySpace, contains only two songs that last longer than 150 seconds, yet listening to it feels like a lifetime of Chinese water torture. It opens with ‘Get Out’, a song Craig Nicholls has already written on at least three occasions, and each time – since ‘Get Free’s patent was approved – with diminishing levels of success. From here, things simply get worse; ‘Autumn Shade III’ mistakenly assumes the world was waiting for a denouement to a trilogy that was starting to sound dreary after the first few listens to part one, while, seven listens in, we’re still at a loss to say anything, good or bad, about the vapid ‘Braindead’.
For an album called ‘Melodia’ written by a self-confessed Beatles fanatic who once penned the gorgeous ‘Homesick’ and ‘Winning Days’, actual melodies are rare and most, like ‘Hey’ or the turgid ‘She Is Gone’, sound embryonic at best. There are seeds of good ideas to be found in ‘He’s A Rocker’’s Kinksian grunge motif and ‘Orange Amber’’s rough-edged approximation of REM, but ‘A Girl I Knew’ is the album’s only real highlight, with Nicholls opening up and talking in something other than vague metaphors about “Living off of coke and brew” over a ghostly acoustic march. If this you think this sounds like us burying the hatchet into The Vines’ spinal cord, you’re wrong. They were never the saviours of rock’n’roll we said they’d be, but we had hoped for a return – however slight – to ‘Highly Evolved’ form. We hoped in vain.