After a five year hiatus from the studio, The Hives are back and deliciously predictable. Their fifth LP Lex Hives (a term derived from Ancient Rome, apparently) doesn’t deviate from their well-trodden path of patched-up drum skins and matching tuxedo outfits. Best of all – and nearing his 20th year in the industry – Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist is still relishing as role as garage-rock’s torch bearer.
If anything, the status quo of ho-hum rock ‘n’ roll has fired Almqvist up even further. In a recent interview, he announced “rock ‘n’ roll is pretty shit at the moment” and “is being perverted into middle-class guilt and whining”. Clearly he believes fans deserve a better brand of music. Lex Hives is his response.
Like The Black And White Album – and the band’s three albums prior – Lex Hives is anchored by two or three thudding singles and a swagful of garage-rock. In this effort, the singles come in the form of Wait A Minute and Go Right Ahead. While the latter has copped its fair share of criticism for sounding a little too much like Electric Light Orchestra‘s Don’t Bring Me Down, it is, for the most part, vintage Hives. Indeed Almqvist’s snarl has never sounded better or more energetic.
Elsewhere the album echoes previous efforts. 1000 Answers, If I Had A Cent and Midnight Shifter could’ve very easily come off Veni Vedi Vicious or Tyrannosaurs Hives. Detractors will lambast the band’s unwillingness to change or ‘mature’ their sound, but when the music is this good, why should it matter?
As a whole, the LP doesn’t quite match the brilliance of The Black And White Album (arguably the band’s magnum opus). There’s nothing of the calibre of Tick Tick Boom or Won’t Be Long. It runs at 31 minutes; not a surprise for a Hives offering, but very short nonetheless. Fans won’t mind, however; they’ll just be happy to hold another Hives LP in their hands.
The truth, as again evidenced here, is that The Hives are impossible to dislike. They stand up for rock ‘n’ roll in an era of iTunes pollution. With Lex Hives they not only add further credence to their reputation, they also spit in the respective faces of their many lesser contemporaries.