The Vines Set New Album Release

(PR) It was the cover of Rolling Stone, on September 19, 2002, that first introduced the Vines to America. Six years later, the same thing could still be said. In an age of synths, ornate string arrangements, and electronic embellishments, the Vines continue to play straight-forward, no frills rock & roll on Melodia, their fourth full-length, which comes out March 24.

Singer and guitarist Craig Nicholls snarls and scowls his way through tracks like "Braindead," "Scream," and "Get Out," the hook-driven opener, like only a man who's known the crowd-fueled, fist-pumping energy of a packed concert hall can. These are songs that ignite, full of the unabashedly snotty garage-rock-meets-post-grunge glory that sent the Vines' stunning debut, Highly Evolved, rocketing up the charts.

There's nothing superfluous about Melodia: few of the album's 14 tracks go beyond the two-and-a-half-minute mark. These are tight, tuneful songs loud and fast rock & roll, pure and simple, the kind that propelled the Vines into international acclaim.

Bassist Brad Heald's aggressive bass lines drive songs like "Manger," while it's the swagger in Nicholls' voice alone that brings life to "Merrygoround" and "He's A Rocker." But these tracks are tempered by the more introspective pieces, written by a man who's clearly been as inspired by Brian Wilson, John Lennon, and Ray Davies as he has Kurt Cobain. "Kara Jayne," for example, is a pretty, harmony-filled love song, and "A Girl I Knew," in which he sings, "There are things I couldn't say/There are times I feel ashamed/Marriage was a thing we had/Hurt so much that it made me mad," shows a man unafraid express emotion and admit to his own mistakes.

Melodia is a record by a band who've seen a lot since they broke into the public's consciousness, and it's a record that reflects those changes without forgetting what won them so many fans in the first place. Even as Nicholls now copes with the Asperger's Syndrome he was diagnosed with in 2004, which has unfortunately deteriorated enough that as of late last year, all touring had to be cancelled, the songs on Melodia ring as a testament to the band's talent and focus, and most of all, their dedication to making the kind of rock & roll that sticks to your ribs and stays in your head long past the actual notes have stopped ringing.

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