Vision Valley

Studio Album by released in 2006

Vision Valley review

Craig Nicholls still has one of the best screams around

When the Vines burst onto the post-grunge celebrity scene in late 2001, the British press was first in line to claim them for their very own. The band was quickly compared to Nirvana while being thrown into the swarm of impacting acts like the , Haven, and Doves. Still, they weren't just hype. The Vines were a tight-knit bunch eager to rock. Unfortunately the band’s singer Craig Nicholls was diagnosed a form of autism in 2004. However, with professional assistance, he has responded well to his treatment and his previously much publicized marijuana and fast food intake is now a thing of the past. In September 2005, Craig was able to enter a tiny Sydney studio with Australian producer Wayne Connolly (You Am I) and remaining band members, Hamish Rosser (drums) and Ryan Griffiths (guitar), and recorded Vision Valley, a set of tracks Nicholls had written in a spate of creativity during the previous couple of months. He still has one of the best screams around, but can also combine that with bittersweet melodies. There are no big production values, LA studios and hours of overdubs on this record. There are no touring plans. What there is are 13 tremendous new songs that veer from gorgeous summer pop to blistering garage stomp to scattergun punk to epic psychedelia from the band that has given us classic rock anthems such as Ride, Get Free, Highly Evolved and Outtathaway!

Vision Valley will delight past fans and hopefully bring new ones alike

Vision Valley is a return to form that is similar in scope and scale to the band's excellent debut, Highly Evolved, blending garage-punk anthems with Beatles sing alongs. The former are in full effect on Fuck Yeh, Dope Train, and Gross Out, while the latter are represented in the album's title track and Candy Daze. Thirteen tracks deep, Vision Valley will delight past fans and hopefully bring new ones alike, based on the strength of the first radio single, the amusingly-monikered Dont Listen To The Radio. The more melodic tunes suit the group well, with the restrained title track bordering on loveliness. At the album's tail end there are two songs that sound like Supergrass at that band's most elegiac: Atmos and Spaceship deliver a real payoff for the band's growing infatuation with studio recording. If this is a sign of things to come, there may be great things in store for the Vines. It's just too bad that Nicholls' behavior drove away long-time bassist and collaborator, Patrick Matthews. Perhaps with the medical condition coming to light, the band can kiss and make up. That sort of happy ending to this story seems good for everyone involved.

Over thirty minutes of proper summer pop music

Craig Nicholls circa 2006 is, generally, a more controlled soul. For every screaming of 70 second buzz fest like Gross Out, there's a blissed out psychedelic pop song to match. Title track Vision Valley trips out over what sounds like the bastard child guitar line of Karma Police, and while Fuck Yeh and Futuretarded may not be the best titles you'll ever hear for a song, the sheer positivity of Don't Listen To The Radio more than makes up for it. It's been a rollercoaster ride for the Sydney band, but the Vines are set to shake off their critics with this third album. Cheap shots at easy targets are to be expected, obviously. But when you look at the arguments thrown at the Vines, they rarely, if ever, stand up. Sure, Vision Valley isn't the most artistically brilliant piece of music you'll ever hear; it's somewhere just north of the three minute pop song gone grunge. It does wear its influences on its sleeve, sounds as you may expect, and doesn't want to challenge any boundaries. So what? What you're looking at is just over thirty minutes of proper summer pop music; an album for days in the garden with the sun out. The Vines have nothing to lose because they find themselves at the bottom again. The major triumph is that Craig Nicholls has managed to overcome the odds to make Vision Valley. With a reformed frontman and some tunes to match, the Vines deserve their second chance.