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The Hives - Lex Hives (Cover Artwork)

The Hives

The Hives: Lex HivesLex Hives (2012)
Disque Hives

Reviewer Rating: 5
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Contributed by: greg0rbgreg0rb
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I was talking with my wife a few weeks ago when I first got wind of this new Hives album, and I stumbled upon the fact that I was just as excited about a new Hives record in 2012 as I was in 2002. And that's rare. Think about it. How many bands that you LOVED a decade ago are still in existence and .
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I was talking with my wife a few weeks ago when I first got wind of this new Hives album, and I stumbled upon the fact that I was just as excited about a new Hives record in 2012 as I was in 2002. And that's rare. Think about it. How many bands that you LOVED a decade ago are still in existence and still making records that remind you of why you loved them in the first place? I bet each of you could think of one or two, tops, and for me, the Hives are one of those select few. These Swedish garage rockers came to prominence in the Rolling Stone-dubbed "saviors of rock and roll" era of the early aughts along with the Strokes and the White Stripes (and to a much lesser degree, the Vines) and while the Hives had a couple popular singles ("Hate to Say I Told You So" especially) and landed a major label deal, they never achieved the level of fame and record sales in North America that I feel they deserved.

And the reason for that, in my opinion, is that they rock too hard for the masses. These well-dressed men were the most traditionally (in the '60s sense) "garage rock" of the 2000 pack: They look like British-Invasion-era Stones and have a frontman (Howlin' Pelle Almqvist) who yelps and shakes it as well as Jagger; they strum catchy riffs with enough speed and grit to keep up with more conventionally-labeled "punk" bands; and they include more subversive pop elements like Devo-esque synths and drum machines to stretch their sound.

Let's get on to Lex Hives. "Wait a Minute" is an obvious hit, with an undeniable drumbeat and the backing Hives repeating a catchy harmony of "Wait a minute now, wait a minute, wait a minute now," as Pelle goes from croon to howl, building the tune patiently to the finish. "Midnight Shifter" battles for the coveted spot of "Greg0rb's Favorite Track," featuring a killer sax countermelody adding to the Elvis/Jerry Lee Lewis groove, all polished off by the addictive chorus of "But if I do do do all I can / Tomorrow comes a chance!" "1000 Answers" has a bit of that '50s piano-slammin' Little Richard thing goin', though the keys are buried in the mix. It also has sweet bassy synths creepin' in too; these guys can't pick a decade to inhabit, and I love it. Single "Go Right Ahead" is a fantastic snapshot of The Hives and what they do best, rockin' hard and fast, with a melodic and lyrical motive so simple it's genius because it's instantly singable yet never gets old. What takes it to the next level is the tenor/bari sax, droning underneath practically the whole damn song.

While a large dose of earworm rockers is a given on any Hives album, it's also interesting to see what little twists and experiments they will try. On 2004's Tyrannosaurus Hives they brought in heavier synth and new wave elements that merely peppered their earlier work, and successfully tried their hand at a soulful-yet-freaky ballad with "Diabolic Scheme." "I Want More" is the ballad of sorts here, but only if you'd call "Back in Black" a ballad. It may one-up "Diabolic" in the down-tempo tune department, with stripped verses where Almqvist switches to a cool speaking voice over monks doing Greg0rbian chant. This accentuates the effect of the buzzing small-amp-cranked-too-high chords that hit, followed by sweet tinny guitar leads, handclaps and gang vocals. Whew.

Their last outing, 2007's The Black and White Album, was their weirdest by far, partially because they actually let producers outside of themselves and their inner circle take part in the proceedings. Songs like "Giddy Up," "Puppet on a String," "T.H.E.H.I.V.E.S." and interlude "A Stroll Through Hive Manor Corridors" covered new ground, but may have turned off a few old fans. Lex Hives ("Law of the Hives") pulls the reigns in just enough, and while it tries out new tricks like horns (duh, right?), stylistically it's their most straight-up rockin' since Veni Vedi Vicious. "Without the Money" is an interesting mid-album diversion, starting out like "I Put a Spell on You" and then dissolving to churning organ and vocals. Almqvist uses the song to show that he's more than just a shouter, and when the drums come pounding, he climbs and climbs to the song's apex.

The wait between Hives albums is grueling, but when you play 400 shows between releases, it's understandable; you need to travel the world to conquer it. This album is the Hives achieving what they set out to do as school kids in an industrial Swedish town in 1993: become the world's greatest rock band. With a perfect mix of fast catchy rockers, powerful yet not-too-slick production and a dash of experimentation, Lex Hives is not only the best Hives album, but the best garage rock record of the past 10 years.

 

 
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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
MN_DrNick (June 18, 2012)

First off... the person complaining about the production is an idiot.

And two... Echos is a moron if he thinks the new Dwarves album is lackluster. Like... needs to be locked up in an insane asylum moron.

greg0rb (June 17, 2012)

HEY! JOHN! Go talk about your gross bands elsewhere. This is a HIVES-ONLY ZONE.

johngentile (June 17, 2012)

Echosmyron, You think so? I loved it. I'd put it as second best after blood guts.

1. Blood guts pussy
2. Born again
3. Young and good looking
4. come clean
5. must die
6. Thank heaven
7. sugarfix
8. Toolin for a warm tea bag
9. Horror stories

EchosMyron (June 16, 2012)

johngentile, that last Dwarves album was pretty damn lackluster.

EchosMyron (June 16, 2012)

"Best garage rock album of the last 10 years"?!?!

What about Guitar Romantic by the Exploding Hearts?

EchosMyron (June 16, 2012)

Even at its very best, this band`s music is only worth about 3 1/2 stars. And based on what I`ve read about this album on other sites, this album is a step down from their early material.

Scruffy (June 16, 2012)

"How many bands that you LOVED a decade ago are still in existence and still making records that remind you of why you loved them in the first place?"

Bad Religion, Bob Mould, Alkaline Trio, The Lawrence Arms, Old 97s, Ryan Adams, Lagwagon, The Weakerthans, Lucero, The Jealous Sound, Propagandhi, Cursive, Ben Folds, MxPx, Samiam, Murder By Death...

I could keep going.

MDJoyce (June 16, 2012)

I love the Hives, the first two albums have a special place in my heart. That said, the lyrics are just as bad as ever and their age has really shown. I would have hoped for improvement. I never had a problem with their sound, with their musicianship, never felt it needed to be stretched with synth or horns. They've always had catchy beats. What I _have_ always had a problem with their shallow lyrics. Any lyrical gems are few and far between, and more often you'll find completely unintelligible lines. The music contains all the punk and garage-rock "threat" that I love, but the lyrics are just noises. I could listen to them sing it Swedish and probably enjoy it just as much.

chipsahoycookie (June 16, 2012)

I fucking dig this. Fun album.

greg0rb (June 16, 2012)

Hey thanks! Welcome to Punknews proper.

diclofenac (June 16, 2012)

I signed up to say I like you and your review because I vigorously nodded whilst reading it. Not only has this band been around for a really long time (almost two decades), they've also managed to keep the exact same five band members together the entire way through. That is an impressive feat, and if anyone's seen them live you can tell they have a passion for what they do. "Midnight Shifter" was also the one that caught me off guard and I ended up playing it a few times because my ears couldn't get enough. If they've borrowed any ideas from The Saints' "Eternally Yours" at all, I'm glad it's the horns. The lengthiest track "Patrolling Days" is a badass self-dedicated theme song to HPA (Howlin' Pelle Almqvist) and contain well written lyrical ramblings that I just love. As you mentioned, those four songs from 2007's "The Black and White Album" are the ones I always skip over and will probably never have an incentive to listen to because they're honestly gimmicky and don't really qualify as proper Hives songs. "Lex Hives" feels more much solid the whole way through, plus I think the tracks are well ordered so the listener gets to catch a breath in the middle. The two bonus tracks (annoyingly digital download only, however available in Scandinavia as a Digipak) are also worth many listens. Final side note, YouTube "Howlin' Pelle" and “I Put a Spell on You” - he's done a version with a big band ;).

greg0rb (June 16, 2012)

What the hell is a bohab? In my defense, I didn't know the Stones put out new material this year cuz nothing of theirs past Tattoo You is worth knowing about. Check and mate.

And I know you just like Public Enemy because you think wearing a clock on a necklace is a reasonable method of telling the time.

johngentile (June 15, 2012)

Hey Greg, the Stones just put out new material this year, you bohab. Do some damn research. Also, I got into PE at age 16, which was 12 years ago. Do some damn research.

EZ3 (June 15, 2012)

For me this is their worst. 5 stars feels a little ridiculous.

greg0rb (June 15, 2012)

You like the current Rolling Stones output, John?!! No no no no... and when was the last time they put out a new album? If it's over a decade ago, it doesn't count. Also, it has to be a band you were AWARE OF ten years ago. You're a fairly young pup, ain't cha? When did you get into Public Enemy? Age 14? Doubt it!

johngentile (June 15, 2012)

"How many bands that you LOVED a decade ago are still in existence and still making records that remind you of why you loved them in the first place?"

I have to say... a lot.

-Rolling Stones
-GWAR
-Dwarves
-Mischief Brew
-World/Inferno
-KRS-One
-Public Enemy

BluthCo (June 15, 2012)

I didn't like the new album quite as much as the raw energy of Veni Vidi Vicious and Tyrannosaurus Hives or the weirdness of The Black and White Album, but it's still a good set of tunes.

ZappBrannigan (June 15, 2012)

God I love VVV and Tyranosaurus Hives. But their Last two albums have drifted a bit too much for me. They aren't bad, but even the faster songs don't compare to the raw energy they once had. I miss the constantly spastic, frantic Hives. I don't think they're the kind of band that benefits from expanding their sound and throwing in horns and adding dancey beats. To each their own though.

AmateurChemist (June 15, 2012)

Perhaps it could be qualified as garage rock, but it just doesn't have any of the common features of garage rock that I generally like. I'm glad you're stoked on it though!

AmateurChemist (June 15, 2012)

I'm not using poor production value interchangeably with garage rock; however, this album just has a crisp ethos to it. For me garage rock is rough around the edges, but not necessarily in production value, just in general aesthetic

greg0rb (June 15, 2012)

Two peeps below me: If you're using "shitty production" as a synonym for "garage rock", you're doing it wrong. It's all in the heart and the songwriting, not the recording quality. Durrr.

Problematiclogic (June 15, 2012)

Agree with the poster below. I listened to the first three songs then had an incredible urge to put on some Cloak/ Dagger and New Bomb Turks.

AmateurChemist (June 15, 2012)

The Hives are hardly garage rock; this is clean production radio tunes with little substance. I enjoyed their last record but I have zero love for this shi

breakaway (June 15, 2012)

Finally a reviewer who agrees with me on this record, amazing stuff.

hayman (June 15, 2012)

Haven't listened to this yet but always been a fan of the band, I've got high hopes.

MN_DrNick (June 15, 2012)

This album is the bees knees!!!

The Hives was one of my first bands when I was going into my punk stage back in high school.

superskabro (June 15, 2012)

fuck yes! I can't wait to get this!!!

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