MELODIA - The Vines (Ivy League)
The surprising thing about the fourth album for The Vines is that it's pretty good. This opinion comes from a self-avowed non-fan who admittedly felt a touch sorry for them after the mauling their singer Craig Nichholl's mental health issues provoked in the press, culminating in a much-reported onstage meltdown.

So The Vines are back. From flipping burgers at South Hurstville Maccas to flipping-out at Annandale, it was a strange journey before the major label interest waned and the band found themselves on their management's own imprint. Lots of time, careful handling and a hefty L.A. recording budget went into this, their back-from-the-brink effort. And it shows.

There's a well-honed punch to the sound (old hand Rob Schnapf is back at the desk) and a fine sense of melody in many of the songs. Some of the guitars sound a bit too-produced but this is a push back into the big time so that's expected. That The Vines only have two ways of operating - flat out neck-breakers and sunny acoustic musings - is neither here nor there. Old fans will like the familiarity and I'm betting it'll win a few new ones.

"He's a Rocker" sounds positively mod-ish before those thrashy guitars kick in. "Jamola" is a one-minute crunchy noise explosion that sounds good to these ears. "Manger" has a vaguely Eastern feel and "Orange Amber" is a hippy dippy ballad that could have done with a trim. "Braindead" and "Scream" both fly close to Nirvana airspace. It's not for me but your results may differ.

Unlike many things from the early 2000s nu-rock fad, "Melodia" neither repels or involves me. It's nowhere near as unoriginal as Jet or as forced as the Datsuns. Taken on its merits, it might win you over. Speaking glibly, breaking down - and simultaneously breaking away from major labels - might have had their upsides, as silly as that sounds. - The Barman