[19 June 2011]
Imagine a Nirvana cover band and a second-rate Beatles cover band collaborated on a garage rock project. Got that mental image? Good. Now you have Future Primitive, the fifth full-length from veteran Aussie rockers the Vines. Say what one will about the Capitol, pre-Asperger diagnosis days of the Vines; sure they were derivative and their albums had tons of filler, but at least they wrote catchy songs and had hits like “Get Free” and “Ride”. Thankfully lead singer Craig Nicholls was diagnosed and treated for his pervasive developmental disorder and no longer terrorizes audiences and his band with his erratic behavior. Unfortunately, the band has slipped from derivative but catchy to just plain derivative and boring, with some senseless exploration thrown in.
Opener “Gimme Love” tries to capture the immediacy of their previous hits, but lacks any edge or hook. After that the album features a steady diet of general ‘60s rip-offs (“Leave Me in the Dark”), Beatles specific knockoffs (“All That You Do”) and garage punk songs (“Black Dragon”) that sound like outtakes from previous releases. It’s unclear if Nicholls is aware that adding some electronic influences to power chords does not a good song make, as he tries this approach on the eponymous track “Future Primitive”. “Weird Animals” starts with an up-tempo Violent Femmes’ style acoustic riff before turning to a psychedelic cut time section and abruptly ending… pretty weak stuff.
“Outro”, an electronic piece centered on a rolling drum beat, sounds like some college kid discovering all the neato tricks of ethereal pedals, Pro Tools and freeform song structure in an “Intro to Computer Music” class. It should also be noted that “Outro” is actually the third to last track, confusing stuff. The penultimate song, “Goodbye”, is actually the most understated and best of the disc. A simple acoustic folk song, the lyrics are straight ahead heartbreak and Nicholls’ raspy, too cool for school vocals actually sound sincere. Sure it’s a Dylan knockoff, but unlike the rest of the album at least it is a strong one.
The album ends with homage to the closing track “F.T.W” (Fuck the World) off the Vines’ sophomore album, 2004’s Winnning Days. You see, Nichols and co. has significantly matured since then, so instead of fucking the world, they merely want to screw it on “S.T.W”, a mediocre mix of alt-rock and electronics. Perhaps in another seven years the Aussies will have a sunnier disposition and actually L.T.W, or maybe by that point they will do us all a favor and stop putting out music.