The Hives – Lex Hives Album Review
Those impeccably dressed Swedish garage rockers The Hives are back with their fifth album, Lex Hives. It’s taken five years to get here, and they’ve spent the interim between this and 2007’s The Black and White Album touring relentlessly and continuing their campaign of world domination. Are The Hives worthy of the title they’ve given themselves, The Best Band In The World?
Album opener ‘Come On’ is a short, sharp ninety-second assault of guitars, hand claps, and yelling, with the lyrics just about summed up entirely in the title. It’s a declaration that yes, The Hives are back and ready to rock your world all over again, and sets a cracking pace which barely lets up for the rest of the album.
‘Go Right Ahead’, the first single released a few weeks back is more or less what you expect from a Hives single, with a massive singalong chorus which would absolutely kill it live, and they channel AC/DC with the foot stomping ‘I Want More’. ‘Without the Money’ has hints of White Stripes in the instrumentation, and is as close to a ballad as The Hives can get, but it’s not long before they pick up the pace again with the ‘These Spectacles Reveal the Nostalgics’, a high-energy rager in which vocalist Howlin’ Pelle Almquist sings “Only life you ever knew / Looking back at what you used to do” in an ode to not getting old and regretting the things you haven’t done. ‘If I Had A Cent’ recalls ‘No Pun Intended’ from 2004’s Tyrannosaurus Hives, and just as quickly as it began, the album closes with ‘Midnight Shifter’, which, if released a few decades earlier, would have fit right in on the Happy Days soundtrack.
In short, Lex Hives is classic Hives. They’re not breaking new ground but, as some of the weirder tracks on The Black and White Album demonstrated, breaking new ground isn’t exactly one of The Hives’ strong points. There’s a few more cues taken from 60’s and 70’s rock in their riffage, some horns here and there, but for the most part, their charismatic mix of bravado and blistering garage rock is as good as it’s ever been. One of The Hives’ strengths (apart from their always evolving matching outfits) has always been their ability to craft deceptively complex rock and roll in the guise of simplicity, and for all their style, there certainly is quite a lot of musical substance under the surface.