Release Date: Jun 5, 2012
Record label: The Hives
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Garage Punk, Punk Revival
Unlike fellow garage revisionists the White Stripes, the Hives never had any highfalutin art to live up to; the color-coordinated Swedes were here for the lulz. The peaks on their first LP in five years are all goofy id – like "Go Right Ahead," where they cross the Ramones with ELO, then add sax. They lose steam at times, but by the LP's end, their toga party is back pogo'ing and the neighbors are knocking.
Where you been, Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist? The lead singer (and heir to Mick Jagger’s rooster dance) and the rest of his Swedish crew have been laying low since 2007’s The Black and White Album, which branched out a touch from their Stooges-infused formula with Jacknife Lee (known for work with U2 and R.E.M.) and Pharrell Williams collaborations. Lex Hives is about as true to their roots as it comes. Self-produced, there’s little pushing into new territory, just spunky, fuzzy, three-chord thumpers that pay tribute to Iggy Pop, Ramones and Operation Ivy.
The HivesLex Hives[No Fun AB; 2012]By Andrew Halverson; June 13, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetIt's been five years since a Hives album managed to come to fruition, but the wait was not spawned because of a lack in band activity. In fact, it was the opposite. The Hives toured their last effort for three years, never really allowing themselves the time to get to the table for new songs.
What better way could there possibly be for The Hives to end their four-and-a-half year absence than with a song called ‘Come On!’ that hurtles along at a million miles an hour, lasts one minute, eight seconds and features just the title shouted over and over again? Answer: there is no better way. The message is clear: The Hives are back, and this time it’s… exactly the same as the last time. As Pelle Almqvist told NME a couple of weeks ago: “We’re into the idea of being one of those bands that doesn’t really have to change that much.
Where the Ramones' punk mission and pop love provided a reliable end result, The Hives' output is driven by their unswerving affinity for garage rock. Even for their singles, the guitars and drums are always in full whammo mode, and singer Howlin' Pelle Almqvist's giddy bluster shows no sign of relenting. .
Five years is a long wait between albums for almost any artist, but especially for a band like the Hives, who seemed to have such a tight grasp on who they are and what they do that they could practically churn out cartoonishly catchy garage punk in their sleep. However, 2007's The Black and White Album, which found the band expanding its sound and collaborating with Pharrell Williams, among others, was equally inspired and muddled, so it's not surprising that the Hives took some time to retool following it. It also makes sense that Lex Hives, the band's first self-released album, is by and large a return to form: the pounding toms that kick off the album's 66-second opening blast, "Come On!," lets listeners know that driving snotty melodies home hard is priority number one, a promise the band makes good on with "Go Right Ahead.
When you think about it, it’s kind of absurd that The Hives are even still around at this point. The Swedish garage-punk band’s fantastic breakout record, Veni Vidi Vicious, dropped in 2000, after all, and the years have not been kind to that sound since. By and large, it’s gone to smaller-but-no-less talented bands like Atlanta’s Black Lips and Memphis’ late Jay Reatard, finding appreciation in internet message-board circles and eBay bidding wars, not in the relatively posh theaters and festivals the Hives play on the regular.
One of the first things to note – and one of the kindest things to say – about the first studio output from The Hives since 2007's misguided Black and White Album is that it's at the very least a guitar album. In a recent interview with Drowned In Sound, the band boldly referred to themselves as being 'one of an extremely small number of bands playing rock and roll', but this assessment doesn't really sit in line with their last record: a sprawling, neutered and often flatly embarrassing affair; a far cry from their early-career intensity. To be fair, the same interview acknowledges this, the band claiming that the Black And White Album was an attempt to be as little like the Hives as possible (pretty high marks on that front, I suppose), while Lex Hives was an attempt to be as much like the Hives as possible.
The first song on Lex Hives is called “Come On!” It is 68 seconds long with a vocabulary of exactly three words. The only sentence of note comes at the 0:36 mark where Pelle Almqvist, in his traditional hammy strut, ushers in a unifying “Everybody come on!” Despite what that number at the top of this review may lead you to believe, “Come On!” is not an evil thing. Glam, glitz, and punchdrunk, irrevocable stupidity has made for a beguilingly sharp ground-zero for these Swedes – perhaps it’s through remarkably low expectations, but critically and culturally we’ve been happy to surrender to these body-blasting hooks.
Do you remember the Hives? No? Well, you probably should, because once upon a time they audaciously demanded to be your new favourite band. Whether or not they’ve managed to hang on to that title is another matter entirely. After all, that was the beginning of the century. Times have certainly changed, and they have had to face up to garage rock revivalism’s fall out of favour, as if the listening public suddenly developed a morbid fear of guitars.
Review Summary: Being the Hives means never having to say you're sorry (or relevant). For all their talk of being rock’s saviors and how the industry is more about “middle-class guilt and whining” then balls-to-the-wall guitar guts and glory, the Hives are about as status quo as anything in music today, particularly if you think that the power chord and Rocket to Russia are the pinnacles of music achievement in the 20th century. Lex Hives is a warm and comforting security blanket for garage rock fans anxious to turn off those scary new sounds on the radio and embrace the past, and in this respect it’s little different from any of the Hives previous four albums.
In 2010, the Hives released a three-song covers EP to appease their fans while they worked on their next album: Tarred and Feathered featured "Civilization's Dying" by the hardcore band the Zero Boys, "Nasty Secretary" by the 1970s Brooklyn hard rock duo Joy Ryder and Avis Davis, and "Early Morning Wake Up Call", a 1985 single by Australian new wave band Flash and the Pan. Although the source material varied, and the Zero Boys song sounded slicker than the raw original, the band managed to unify the tracks with one consistent, stomping, Hives-ian aesthetic. The EP showed that maybe the band that flopped after their initial success in 2001 could deliver a solid follow-up to 2007's Black and White Album.
With the exception of their 2010 covers EP Tarred and Feathered, it has been four and a half years since The Hives released new material (The Black and White Album), and even longer since they’ve been hailed as the saviors of rock ’n’ roll. Ah, those were the good old days of the garage rock revival, when everyone’s favorite matching suit-wearing Swedes went neck and neck with The Vines, The Strokes, and The White Stripes over who was going to rule music for the rest of the 2000s. Lex Hives isn’t likely to put this now-veteran band back into the festival headlining conversation – that ship has sailed into the Baltic Sea, unfortunately– so let’s look at this new record for what it is in 2012, which is a pretty fun romp of all the things that make The Hives so loveable.
THE HIVES put on their kooky stage costumes Tuesday (June 26) at Sound Academy. See listing. Rating: NN For a band so clearly laser-focused on good times, Swedish garage rock superstars the Hives don't seem to be having a ton of fun on their fifth album. They might pride themselves on being the type of band that doesn't have to evolve, but they just sound bored.
Emerging from the shadows after five long years, Sweden’s greatest musical export since Abba, The Hives return booted and besuited. As they’ve ably described it, ‘Lex Hives’ is “Self-produced, self-played, self-released, and self-promoted, these twelve songs are not built to fit just anyone.”After a faltering start with the repetitive ‘Come On’ and uninventive ‘Go Right Ahead’ showing the effect copy/paste can have on lyrics, the album gathers momentum with the infectious call and response of ‘1000 Answers’. If you’ve never heard punk rock classic ‘I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll’ then fourth track ‘I Want More’ offers a perfect introduction as at best a repeated motif and at worst a complete rip off.