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 shine brightest when they stick to the KISS principle like meatballs at a potluck. That’s why songs with lyrics that can easily be shouted will never go out of style with them, case in point being “Come On!”, “Wait a Minute”, and “1000 Answers”. And not that they’ve never strayed from their garage punk comfort zone before, but Lex Hives finds these Scandinavians trying out new instrumental ideas. Specifically, there are a few ear-perking instances of Fun House-worshiping saxophone in “Go Right Ahead” and “Midnight Shifter”. The aforementioned “1000 Answers” also has some killer, Jerry Lee Lewis-reminiscent piano playing in it.
On the downside, there are bluesy guitar licks that break down into gospel organ laments (“Without the Money”) that, while experimentally cool, fall rather flat. No offense to Pelle Almqvist, but his voice has never been strong enough to carry a song on its own. But when he’s “howlin’” during some of their faster numbers (“If I Had a Cent”, “These Spectacles Reveal the Nostalgics” and especially “Patrolling Days”), look out. As they proved during the Coachella webcast back in April, The Hives intend to settle some unresolved scores with live audiences in North America.
Essential Tracks: “Patrolling Days”, “Come On!”, and “Go Right Ahead”