A dozen years removed from the irresistible snarl of Get Free, The Vines don’t sound much different. There are still big riffs, and the sound is just rough-around-the-edges enough to avoid being tagged as “arena rock.” That’s both good and bad: fairly or not, bands with a clearly-defined sound are often accused of being stagnant if they don’t change, and risk alienating fans if they do.
Wicked Nature, The Vines new double album, is a valiant attempt to have their cake and eat it. There are big, crunchy tracks and ‘60s garage tracks. The former sound like a time capsule to the giddy heights of the Strokes/Hives early aughts; the latter skirt the edge of novelty but succeed on their own terms. It’s solid but somehow unremarkable because it is largely familiar.
It’s probably not such a big deal in the digital era, but the double album used to be an audacious move by an artist, reserved for bold artistic statements or record-label ego stroking. Wicked Nature is neither—it’s just a lot of stuff, and more power to the band for generating this much material at a time when a lot of bands have run out of steam. There’s a very good single-album’s worth of material here, namely the more garage-y tracks: “Anything You Say” from disc one, the early ’70s vibe of “Reincarnation,” “Truth,” and most of disc two. That record would, however, probably fail to satisfy anyone who loved Get Free.
If this album had a band name which no one recognized, it would probably generate some buzz, and based on its energy and hooks, you’d probably check out The Vines when they came to town. It’s probably unfair that longevity has that effect on some bands, but there’s a “been there, done that” feel to a lot of these tracks that’s hard to shake. The Vines do what they do, so if you dig that, here you go. »
– Eric Evans