Highly Evolved - The Vines

Generally favorable reviews - based on 18 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 18
  2. Negative: 2 out of 18
  1. They’re a shaggy-haired, surf’s up pop band and painfully vulnerable all at the same time.
  2. It's rare for a band to channel the Velvet Underground, Nirvana, Dandy Warhols and the Beatles within the span of 45 minutes and sound unique, but the Vines have crept into that select category with Highly Evolved. [Aug 2002, p.86]
  3. 80
    If you're this good, it's not hype. [#8, p.126]
  4. Unlike many other pop postmodernists, the Vines never sound weighed down by all the influences they include in their music -- it's as if they're so excited by everything they hear, they can't help but recombine it in unique ways.
  5. The Australian quartet's debut album justifies the fuss that followed its title track's bubblegum approximation of Nirvana. [July 2002, p.121]
  6. As a debut album, 'Highly Evolved', for all its faults, can be an energising proposition.
  7. 70
    The Vines' place in the rock gene pool is shaped by elements of controlled guitar thrash, often complex harmony, bubblegum psychedelia and polished piano-driven ballads with an early Seventies whiff. [Aug 2002, p.116]
  8. A strange mix of songs that, while varied, doesn't boast much personality of its own.
  9. For as good as the majority of the tunes here are, the grandiose scope of Highly Evolved turns out to be a bit more than the young quartet could chew.
  10. OK, so it tails off towards the end, and there's something rather dishonest about a band so young releasing a track like '1969', but even then it's quite endearing to see them trying to build such an immediate mythology around themselves.
  11. A promising first effort that suffers from retro fever.
  12. 60
    Highly Evolved is clunkiest on long, drawn-out stuff like "Homesick" and "Country Yard," but singer Craig Nicholls has most of Kurt Cobain's shrieking mannerisms down, and, like most grunge, the band's simple three-chord rock is most exciting when played extremely fast.
  13. It's hard to figure out exactly why everybody is so excited about this record.... There is something there to like -- plenty, in fact. But it is also disjointed and sometimes maddening.
  14. The record's big-rock sound works against it, as does its back-and-forth swing from melodic Britpop to room-filling volume.
  15. The Vines get credit for ambition, but Highly Evolved covers so much ground that none of it seems convincing: there's just no emotional depth here.
  16. The album definitely has a few remarkable moments, but it’s really just not very good.
  17. The Vines have trouble faking both the depth of feeling and the noisome mischief that good garage-punk requires, and the two rote Britpop numbers they tack on don't help.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 52 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 37 out of 41
  2. Negative: 3 out of 41
  1. Feb 5, 2013
    This album is one of the best punk rock/ garage rock albums that I have ever heard from this generation. Absolutely beautiful and underrated. I highly recommend this album to anyone who enjoys punk rock, garage rock. Absolutely amazing. Full Review »
  2. Jun 28, 2012
    The Vines debut smoulders like hot rocks on asphalt and then suckerpunches you with absurdly gifted melodic harmonies. After being diagnosed with Asperger's and generally becoming an unfortunate caricature of himself, the mercurial Craig Nicholls doesn't seem like he was ever much of a rock star. But let me tell you he definitely was and probably still is. I saw the Vines play material from their debut album on the Radio 1 Stage of the Reading Festival, which incidentally was being recorded. This was a Nicholls who emerged in puffs of smoke and lights to an uproarious reception. Touting a huge spliff for the entire gig may not be pc, but it enabled Nicholls to reign in his madness and just generate pure rock and roll, screeching into the mic like a baby pteradactyl. 'Highly Evolved' is the perfect single, just 1 min 20 secs of pop punk noise. 'Autumn Shade', 'Homesick', 'Country Yard' and 'Mary Jane' are all sonic gems, rippling with waves of beautiful harmonies. 'Outtathaway' is raw and ridiculous as is the pounding 'Get Free'. Relish this album, there is something special about this band that reveals itself on repeat listens. Full Review »