Album Reviews

The Hives – The Death of Randy Fitzsimmons

(Disques Hives) UK release date: 11 August 2023

Featuring some of their best work to date, it’s reassuring to know that these Swedes still know how to take your mind off your troubles

The Hives - The Death Of Randy Fitzsimmons It’s been over 10 years since we last heard from Swedish garage rockers The Hives, and if you believe the story behind The Death Of Randy Fitzsimmons, they’re back for a very specific reason. The titular Fitzsimmons is the mythical sixth member of The Hives who allegedly wrote all their previous songs – after seeing an obituary for Fitzsimmons, the band dug up his grave and found, in his coffin, some demo tapes which became this album.

That story is, of course, utter nonsense, but it’s a fun way to reintroduce Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist and company back into our lives for the first time since 2012’s Lex Hives – and from the monstrous, Rage Against The Machine-like riff that opens the first track Bogus Operandi, it’s clear that not much has changed in The Hives’ world, despite their long absence.

And, frankly, why would you want it to? This sixth album is a prime example of what the Swedes do very well – short, sharp rock songs, filled with energy and focus and always delivered with a knowing wink. The pace barely flags over the album’s 31 minute running time, and tracks like Trapdoor Solution and the closing Step Out Of My Way are delivered in under 100 seconds. As Step Out Of My Way puts it: “step out of the way if you can’t take the pace” which serves as a decent motto for the album.

This may all sound exhausting, but luckily The Hives have the songs to back up their energy. Although they remain best experienced in the live arena, songs like Rigor Mortis Radio with its swaggering glam rock beat, and the pleasingly silly Crash Into The Weekend (where Almqvist proclaims “I like the weekend like a cake shot out of a gun”) are amongst their best work to date. Countdown To Shutdown even has a 4-3-2-1 countdown to introduce it, which seems the most gloriously Hives thing on earth.

The Bomb may be the album highlight, with a rapid-fire, call and response nonsensical chorus (“he a bomb, me a bomb, we a bomb, she a bomb, we’re going off tonight”) that will refuse to leave your brain, but tracks like Two Kinds Of Trouble and Smoke & Mirrors run it close – even The Way The Story Goes seems to nod towards The Osmonds’ Crazy Horses at one point and gets away with it.

Curiously, the one point where they take things down a notch is What Did I Ever Do To You, which with its more languid pace and some odd little electronica, sounds like its drawn inspiration from Arctic MonkeysAM album – which isn’t perhaps a huge surprise, given that The Hives recently supported the Sheffield megastars on their stadium tour.

Otherwise, it’s 100mph big, loud, dumb fun in the very best of ways – producer Patrik Berger, better known for his more poppy work with the likes of Robyn and Charli XCX, obviously knows exactly how to best distil the raucous energy of the band. In a world increasingly dark and serious, it’s reassuring to know The Hives still know how to take your mind off your troubles for 30 minutes.

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More on The Hives
The Hives – The Death of Randy Fitzsimmons
The Hives – Lex Hives
The Hives’ Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist: “Something takes over when I’m on stage. It’s the closest I get to a religious experience” – Interview
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The Hives – The Black And White Album