The Hives – Lex Hives

The Hives drop 'Lex Hives'

Garage Punk Prodigal Sons Still Wanna Shake, Rattle, Rock & Roll

Put your hands together for that dapper garage punk band you knew and loved way back in the earliest years of the W. administration, back before the reign of the WMD facade, before the heavens opened up for the one-percenters and the foreclosure crisis devoured faith in American ideals. Back then, you could spend endless hours soaking up deafening and addictive rock and roll without concerning yourself with details of whether or not the sound was derivative, the band’s look was contrived or whether you should be ashamed for having such fun under the influence of raucous pop hooks while seemingly infinite terror and devastation crippled society. Once upon a time, there was a charismatic Swedish five-piece named The Hives that maybe hooked you back in those glory days. Then, it all came tumbling down: the orange alerts, the Patriot Act, Homeland Security and the relentless tension and helplessness. The suffocating cynicism and the mainstream snark soon followed.

Cut to 2012. The music world has heard little from The Hives in five years, and they haven’t made but a blip on the radar in almost ten. 21st Century headlines most likely have bled you dry. Now, the soul-sucking election spectacle is ramping into high gear, and the music that sells has fragmented between televised karaoke star pop, post-new-wave hipster irony and high fructose country-pop cut on an assembly line. Fortunately, the band that had the balls to name their initial collection of songs with far-reaching appeal Your New Favourite Band is back. The Hives still have the same wildly energetic sound they did way back when, and it sounds fresher than ever. Odds are you’ve forgotten how freeing they can be. Taking Lex Hives for a spin would be the most low-risk investment you could make to jog your memory.

“Come On!” is a rollicking, one-minute flip of the ignition that jet sets the album open with a muffled beat count before kicking in blazing guitars and a cheerleader barrage wholly comprised of the words “come” and “on.” It’s a swift fireball of a start to an album that won’t soon let up and serves up a rejuvenated The Hives doing all the things they do so expertly with deceptive ease. “Go Right Ahead,” “Take Back the Toys” and “If I Had a Cent” frolic in the ageless waters of The Hives’s highest-charting and longest-lasting hit, “Hate to Say I Told You So.”

Just because The Hives know how to construct deliriously addictive melodies and pack a live set with endless vigor doesn’t mean they can’t address a concern; after all, they are garage punks who happen to craft perfect pop melodies– just like their punk-hero forefathers, The Ramones. On Lex Hives, they tackle the frustration of paying bills amidst debilitating diseases through the insistence to call a friend who will give a thousand pieces of advice promising one will stick (“1000 Answers”), megalomaniacal consumption backed by an AC/DC-worthy riff and chorus (“I Want More”), life after retirement as a patrolman with a happy trigger finger, a promise to “blow your mind away” and a refrain of “forever HPA” (“Patrolling Days”) and the rise of The Seventh Son with a shout-along chorus of “Praise the Lord, my time is coming” (“My Time Is Coming”).  That Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist, Nicholas Arson, Vigilante Carlstroem, Dr. Matt Destruction and Chris Dangerous can twist and turn every song into a hyperactive, giddy gem that the faux-brothers Ramone could adore (i.e. “Wait a Minute,” where The Hives both co-opt the structure of “Surfin’ Bird” to magnificent effect and drop the line “these kids are all insane / they’ve got drugs instead of brains / they drink blood at night / yes they do / not every one of them /  but a few”) is a feat nothing short of exceptional; that they can make the entire album sound both so undeniably loud and ridiculously radio-ready is simply miraculous. The Hives have an unassailable knack for wrapping punk ethos in Stooges-like hysteria and a Beatles-on-the-Sullivan-show brand of pop perfection. Though you likely haven’t given The Hives half a second’s thought in your stressed mind these last several years, Lex Hives can be the blank check you’ve been praying for to get your lust for life back in the black.


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