There's always a risk when a new band releases a second album after producing an astonishing debut. Some bands progress forwards and hone thier sound (Room on fire) whilst others seem to flail somewhat and repeat the basic formula of the first album, but worse. (The Coral, anyone?)
I'm pleased to report that after hearing the new album via advance copy, the vines have progressed and produced a superb album that easily matches thier debut, Highly Evolved. Many people have criticised this album for contaning songs that were knocking about way back when Highly Evolved was released. But i feel this bad-feeling is unjustified, if you want to be surprised when the album comes out, don't download the songs, It's like opening your xmas presents early!
Winning Days keeps the same formula that made thier debut such an awesome album. There are the infamous growling tracks that show off Nicholls' talent wonderfuly and will undoubtedly ingrain themselves into your head (I've been singing F*ck the World ever since i first heard it live way back in April '03.)
Ride is a corking (haha, 'corking') opener and quite reminiscent of the brilliant 'Outtathaway' with its driving riff and inimatable Nicholls howl, newies such as Animal Machine and TV Pro also shine with that unmistakable Vines-quality that adorns every last riff and hook...beautiful
Meanwhile, there are the almost Beatles-esque mellow songs interspersing the rocking anthems. Like country yard and homesick on highly Evolved, these are often hauntingly beautiful. Take for example the dreamy, yet unsettlingly paranoid song 'Autumn shade II,' Craig shows off his beautiful voice the most in such songs i feel, and this is helped with the gorgeous 'layered-vocals' technique that really add a strikingly sensation to them.
Lyrically a sense of paranioa and self-realisation is implicit within the album. 'I'm succeeding to speak like I'm f*cking mad' and 'the minds peculiar so f*ck the world up.' The lyrics are perhaps more powerful than thier first album, and combined with the new permanent 4-man line up, this really is a GOOD thing believe me!
In conclusion, if you liked the last one, buy this! Its similar, but better. If you didn't like the last one, buy it anyway, its a truly astonishing album...