The Vines

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 August, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 August, 2002, 12:00am

Highly Evolved

(Capitol Records)

I have heard the future of rock'n'roll and its name is ... retro. Or the Vines, if you will. Hailed by critics worldwide as the next big thing, the Aussie power poppers are more like the one-before-the-last-medium-sized thing, reheated.

That's not to say they're bad; Highly Evolved has pleasing moments. The title track and the single Get Free would sound perfect on a hot summer's day, rattling through the cassette deck of the old rust-bucket that was your first car. But other songs are harder to distinguish - the hooks in the power-chord riffage are simply not sharp enough. This is the Cult without the fire, Nirvana sans grunge. Australian listeners will recognise an obvious love of 1980s bands Hoodoo Gurus and the Sunnyboys, but the superior songwriting prowess those outfits boasted is lacking.

Still, the Vines look the part, and coming hot on the heels of riff-rock-rebirth merchants the Strokes and the White Stripes, their timing is immaculate. But while the kids in America lap this up, the rest of us might be tempted to dust off that old copy of the Cult's Electric and remember how it should really be done.