It's a more melodious follow-up to their debut Highly Evolved, though the winning...
Lisa Haines 2002
Winning Days is the second album from Australia's wildest exports, famous for both their exhausting live shows and mind-bending off-stage antics. With reports of shattered guitars, groupie mayhem and determined substance abuse, this new offering comes as something of a surprise. It's a more melodious follow-up to their debut Highly Evolved, though the winning formula of nervous energy and shuddering crescendos remains firmly in place.
The Vines have furthered their trademark fusion of Nirvana and John Lennon by adding layers of harmony. A technique that manifests itself on "Evil Town" and "TV Pro" where grinding guitars meld seamlessly into moments of psychedelic whimsy. But while "Animal Machine" and "Evil Town" emulate Nirvana's grunge infernos, the sunny disposition streaming through this album is unmistakeable. In fact, the resolute chirpiness of "Ride" and "She's Got Something to Say" is more akin to Supergrass than Sgt Pepper.
Comparisons with The Beach Boys will be inevitable once people hear the seductive harmonies on "Winning Days" and "Rainfall". And such parallels are well deserved; singer/songwriter Craig Nicholls has a remarkably versatile voice. Plus there's a touchstone here for fans of the recently-departed Elliott Smith. Elements of his lyrical style are sprinkled across the whole album, most notably on wistful folk-number "Autumn Shade II". This influence may be due in part to the fact that Smith's erstwhile producer Robert Schnapf (also of Beck and Guided By Voices fame) is back on board.
Winning Days was recorded in the hallowed grounds of Woodstock's famous Bearsville Studios. After listening to these tunes it's somewhat tempting to imagine that after a long day thrashing about indoors The Vines hastened to the tranquil woodlands outside to sit dreaming up harmonies under the stars, a cold beer in hand. The result is startling, a truly unique effort that leap frogs gaily between tortured ecstasy and furious abandon. Listen to it now!