The Vines sported a blazing, bratty sound reminiscent of early Nirvana when they emerged in July 2002. But there was more to them than that. While half of their debut, Highly Evolved, channeled Kurt Cobain, the rest seemed more rooted in '60s psychedelic pop.
The Australian quartet grows even farther away from the grunge tree with its sophomore effort, Winning Days, out March 23. The group's moody new rock and pop songs jangle, buzz, snarl and grin. The first single, "Ride," which hits radio in February, bridges the Vines' debut's whirlwind fury and second album's more mature songwriting.
On it, frontman Craig Nicholls plays searing guitars and shouts like his larynx is on fire. But between the ripping riffing and megatonic solos lie spangly guitars, handclaps and a harmonized chorus.
" 'Ride' is a short, sharp song we really like," Nicholls said. "We're at our heaviest and craziest. But it's really melodic as well, which is equally important."
Whoever the Vines pick to direct the video will have a tough time following the lyrics. "It's the most abstract thing on the album and doesn't have any meaning at all," Nicholls admitted. "It's just a bunch of random images and words."
Three of the words in the song, "f--- the world," echo through the disc's final track as well as another song inventively titled "F--- the World." It's a surprising sentiment for a band whose latest record seems far more upbeat than its debut, but it's not as cut and dry as it seems. The grungiest number on the record, it addresses environmental cataclysm with more ambivalence than nihilism.
"There's a couple angles to it," Nicholls said. "It's an environmental song where I'm kind of being sarcastic in the 'f--- the world' chorus. It's really not a good idea to do that. The way people abuse the planet is bad. Then there's the other side of it, which is, 'F--- it, I don't care. I'll do what I want and we'll all go down together.' "
Whether Nicholls is pro-environment or hell-bent on destruction depends on what day it is. Sometimes he adamantly supports one side over the other; usually he's pretty indecisive.
"I definitely think the world is a good place," he said. "But maybe it would be better if people didn't hate so much and kill animals. At the same time, it's like, whatever. It's just a planet, that's all."