A moment of egotism. Being sunday night, I was thinking if someone was offended by the Thalidomide line in what Ellis quoted. So I wondered if anyone else was, so tapped in my name and Ellis' into Google to see if anything came up. And a few things did, most of which didn't bother me at all. One that caught a nerve however was William A Mitchell, casually referencing it as "come-hate-the-world-with-me propaganda".
Won't speak for Ellis, but for me, that particular quote was actually from one of the most honest, open-hearted and in-love-with-music rants I've hammered out in the last few years - it's specifically about how music can be a genuinely tranforming and elevating experience. Taking the line out of context makes it even harder than it is, when specifically I wasn't just talking about the Vines being shitty - but rather the Vines being shitty and being presented in a way they simply didn't merit. My simple rage when reading that Vines special issue of the NME back in 2002 is difficult to get across in words, but - well - I gave it a pretty good shot.
Is it over-harsh comparing having a stunted love of pop with congential deformity? If you've got a reasonable approach to pop and the importance of music in life and its ability to alter and enhance experience, sure. But I'm not a reasonable man.
(And, to be honest, the only other metaphor which came to mind was Child abuse, which was even more distasteful)
Anyway - since Bleedmusic is down, here's the original review for the whole argument. Minus any proofing from Houghton, clearly, so is almost certainly a tad rough. But - hey - I haven't time to neaten it up, as I'm meant to be writing a couple of comic synopsis.
What annoys is that I’d never even dream of reviewing this album is it wasn’t for the NME. If it wasn’t for the unremitting hype, I’d never consider wasting my time telling you exactly how a light-grunge album operates. This is written purely in reaction to the Craig? Biggest-Cock-In-His-Generation? and The-Vines:A-Cure-For-Cancer? style headlines in our favourite weekly music rag. This is written as a reaction, a counter-measure and a critique of those excesses.
I might go and give the fuckers the idea they’re important or something. Which – fuckingbastardmonkeydick – they clearly are.
They’re the last remain of the weekly (general) music press. Monthly music press only allows music as lifestyle accessory, automatically leading to music being something that you come to occasionally instead of letting permeate your life. Weekly press works exactly with the tick of the pop clock, the systolic heartbeat of weekly releases, weekly love affairs and so on and so forth. Rather than lifestyle, the weeklies are about Pop as life.
And it’s not the hype I object to. I love hype. Hype is sexy. Hype makes me laugh. Hype is a cheap news-print high, a micro-lick of speed on the walk to work, a little lubricant on the pop-cock. Gimme gimme gimme hype.
But, for fuck’s sake, use hype on something worth having an opinion on. Because someone is always young enough and dumb enough to buy the hype. And this first love, before the cynicism sets in and you become hardened to the cycle, is important. Some poor kid is going to buy into the Vines and end up laying down eighth-rate memories of how good pop music can be, and thus ending up dismissing it as inconsequential. By wasting their first rush on the Vines, they’re going to be the ageing house-wife who doesn’t think sex is a big deal because they’ve only ever experienced a premature gimp trying to reach their cervix with desperate, spasming thrusts.
If the Vines are your first favourite band, you’re fucked from the start. You’re the pop-equivalent of a thalidomide baby.
So: Highly Evolved is professional corporate grunge pop mixed with folk-by-way of early-seventies California ballads.
That’s it? You want more? What kind of fuck are you?
Well… while a competent growl for his faster songs, Craig Nicholls’ balladeer voice is sickly and lacks any character. Lyrically – and you probably have noticed how the reviews have completely ignored the lyrics – ascends to the level of poetry: fifth form poetry describing a girl they think is really pretty and how they make him funny in his belly-welly. Even Oasis had occasional moments of mad-word-science, cut and pasted into nonsense – which is clearly the best kind of sense money can buy.
Moments that rise above the dross? Sunshinin’s sad piano-lead ballad. The call and response song formations, best shown towards the arse end of Get Free and enlivening the aforementioned Sunshinin’.
Moments that fall below the waves and drown: Country Yard literally not doing anything for four minutes. Factory being a Beatles-do-calypso summer beat. In The Jungle’s attempts to rock-out, as impressive as the house band on a Children’s BBC kiddie-soap. The whole of Mary-fucking-Jane.
In fact – now I come to think about it - everything apart from Sunshin’ and bits of Get-Free.
That’s it. Really. There is nothing else here. Walk on by. It’s not even worth the “The Vines are a band who believes Highly Evolved means they’ve got opposable thumbs – and think opposable thumbs evolved for thumb-wars”. Not worth the hate which made me want to write “I’d piss on them if they were on fire – but only in hope I could drown them”. Not really worth much of anything at all.
But fuck it. They’re at least as good as Silverchair, and almost as might as My Vitriol. Buy it. Who cares anyway? It’s only pop music.
Kieron Gillen's Workblog, foo'.