The avalanche of media attention that greeted The Vines' debut album Highly Evolved couldn't help but breed suspicion, especially given that the hype accompanied seen-it-before stage histrionics and an album with only two or three memorable songs. Even the best of Highly Evolved—that'd be the title track and the winningly concise "Get Free"—wasn't exactly blazing any trails. All in all, The Vines' first U.S. foray carried the familiar whiff of the hype cycle: Pre-release buzz deafens, press goes overboard, underwhelming record underwhelms, band goes away.
But here comes The Vines again, in more ways than one carrying on as if Highly Evolved never happened. Winning Days accompanies yet another wave of delirious attention, and again includes a mere handful of fine songs to go with gobs of forgettable, decidedly far-from-revolutionary material. Winning Days opens and closes with nicely pungent blasts of amp-smashing rock ("Ride" and "Fuck The World," respectively), but the album's midsection—in other words, just about everything between the first song and the last song—sags under the weight of midtempo, middle-of-the-road throwaways. The title track, a gracefully brooding pop gem, breaks up the monotony along the way, but that song has a lot of decent but unspectacular filler to make up for.
Given singer Craig Nicholls' notoriously mercurial, unhinged persona, The Vines ought to be a damn sight more compelling than Winning Days lets on. As it is, all this sound and occasional fury adds up to yet another well-coifed also-ran, with a stack of press clippings, a few highlights for Best Of The '00s compilations, and little else to go on.