Review Summary: "I grew up in a hole, squeezing diamonds out of coal!"
Swedish garage-rockers The Hives have released their fifth studio album “Lex Hives” and overall the greatest rock’n’roll band of the 21st century stick to their classic high-energy garage-riff-fuelled howlin’ Hives sound on their new record. Frontman Howlin Pelle humorously admitted that the album is very “Hive’s influenced” and the name of the album came from the Roman idea of “enforcing a set of rules and accepting them as standard…We came up with some rules about how to make it ‘Hives’ and we applied them”.
He also said recently: “Being more stylistically diverse is watering down what’s at the core of what you do, I feel. Even in art, there’s basically just Picasso who could have 50 different phases that were all genius. For most people, it feels more powerful if an artist has something you can immediately recognize.”
…And right on cue the album opener “C’mon” begins with a signature thumping garage beat. Quickly the guitars tear in as Pelle repeatedly yells the title. Is their any better way to introduce yourself after a five year break between albums"
In “I Want More” Pelle sounds like a super-villian from some old cartoon: “A healthy appetite is good for one and all, and I should be at peace with the world, my baby, but still I want some more…You careful types with sort-of lives just won’t know what I mean, I speed through life like a biblical locust riding on a lazer beam.” Needless to say this particular villain is accompanied by a heavy thumping rock beat and some chunky guitar riffs as he screams “I WANT MORE!!!”
Other highlights include “Patrolling Days”, with its breakneck guitar riff and anthemic chorus, the insistent “My Time Is Coming”, and the mid-tempo stomp of “Take Back the Toys”. Pelle said recently: “Everyone is always going to compare you to the first successful thing you did. When you break through is what you’ll be judged against.” Well Pelle, these tracks are pure classic Hives which stand up to all your best tracks of the past including the breakthrough single “Hate to Say I Told You So”.
There are a couple of tracks I find myself skipping however. The disappointing Electric Light Orchestra (why") rip-off of a lead single “Go Right Ahead” is just too generic and has a T-Rex style glam riff which my ears don’t agree with. Also there is the hideous “Wait a Minute”, with its corny repetitive backing vocals.
The deluxe edition also includes two tracks produced by Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme. The best of these is the rockabilly tinged “Insane” which bangs and crashes and screams along in a very agreeable way.
Despite their brilliance The Hives releasing schedule sometimes makes me wish it was the early sixties, where rock’n’roll albums we’re cut hard and fast. The Beatles released eleven albums between 1963 and 1970; The Hives have only managed five in fifteen years and this is their first for five years! “Lax Hives” more like, right" Some of this lethargy can be attributed to their status as a “live band”. Pelle recently said something like: “we have to release the album so we have some more songs to play live.”
Well forget that! It would be worth the wait even if they weren’t a “live band”. And maybe I should go out and see them sometime instead of sitting on my ass writing crap about them all day, ay"
Another reason it could have taken so long to make the album was the Hives decision to self produce. “It’s frustrating having the five of us all calling the shots in the studio…There are five dictators, which is the problem. Everybody thinks they should decide…Our way of working in the studio represents a modern democracy in that it’s very manipulative — there’s lobbying and there’s lying and cheating but, in the end, there’s always some form of vote,” explained Pelle.
The Hives increased the popularity of the usually underground garage punk genre. You can hear the influence they have had on alternative rock though more recently formed bands like Bass Drum of Death, Teenanger and Eddy Current Suppression Ring, who all share the same raw rock’n’roll ethic which The Hives popularized when they exploded into the mainstream in 2002. “Lex Hives” proves that the Hives are still playing rock’n’roll the way it’s meant to be played and are still capable of producing a great record with some truly distinctive and astounding moments.