Album Review: The Hives - 'Lex Hives'

21 June 2012 | 6:06 pm | Staff Writer
Originally Appeared In

What you've come to expect, but that's no bad thing.

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Swedish garage rock luminaries The Hives have busied themselves with touring for the past few years, and renowned for being one of the greatest live bands around, no one is complaining. But apart from 2010’s Tarred and Feathered, a three-track EP of obscure covers, The Hives haven’t released a record since The Black and White Album in 2007.

Lex Hives, their latest full-length offering, maintains the stripped back sound that saw them credited as part of the ‘garage rock revival’ of the early 2000s, alongside The Vines, The Strokes, and The White Stripes. However, much like The Black and White Album, Lex Hives is a bit hit and miss. It would be easy to dismiss this record after the first two tracks; the opening song, Come On!, is almost grating in its repetitiveness, and the monotony continues on Go Right Ahead, complete with a riff lifted from Electric Light Orchestra’s Don’t Bring Me Down. But it does get better.

1000 Answers, Patrolling Days and Take Back the Toys will evoke a sigh of relief, reminding you that The Hives are still a band worth listening to. These Spectacles Reveal the Nostalgics is definitive Hives; short and sharp, with an air of sophistication.

It’s admirable when a band tries to evolve, but there’s a certain comfort in the moments leading up to putting on a new Hives record, knowing it’s going to sound just like its predecessors. For the most part, Lex Hives achieves that continuity, but it’s when The Hives get experimental that things go slightly awry. Without the Money, a slow track sampling the melody of I Put a Spell On You, features toned down vocals from singer Pelle Almqvist. Uncharacteristic of a Hives song, it feels sluggish and tends to drag. Besides, it’s somewhat unsettling if Pelle Almqvist isn’t “howlin’”.

Reminiscent of previous Hives records, Lex Hives is over before you know it. The Hives don’t allow their listener the chance of getting bored, with an uncanny ability to end songs mere seconds before that might occur. There are aforementioned exceptions to this rule on Lex Hives, but generally speaking, The Hives have succeeded in producing a tight record that will leave you wanting a little more.

It’s difficult to appreciate Lex Hives without longing for the energy and sensation of earlier works Veni Vidi Vicious and Tyrannosaurus Hives. Let’s face it; those records are incomparable. Overall though, Lex Hives showcases The Hives for what they are; an entertaining band, still superior when it comes to delivering catchy garage rock. Tracks like If I Had a Cent and My Time is Coming will restore validity in The Hives’ claim of being Your New Favourite Band.