Wow. ….so long…I just…….it’s been………………………………so much time has passed since my last post.
OH WELL NOBODY CARES!
[EDIT: I know that this review is long over due (how about any new post in general!?), being as this album came out months ago, but bear with me. I am getting back on track with the blog and I'm going to be hopefully slinging more reviews at you then a monkey does shit. I am sorry if that has ever happened to you though...That would be gross.]
All that matters now is this new album I’ve been listening to! Now, I know that I gave The Hives’ front man, Pelle Almqvist some guff in my last post for his comments regarding band reunions (ie; Refused) but let’s be clear, The Hives are and always have been an undeniable force of a rock ‘n’ roll band. Not to mention, they are also from Sweden, so perhaps Pelle’s comments came from a patriotic place of good ol’ friendly jealous spite. Either way, 5 years after their last album, the hit-or-miss Black And White Album, The Hives (or as I call ‘em “The other good Swedish band”) are back, recently releasing their 5th full-length album Lex Hives. Though unlike their last LP, Lex Hives was completely self-produced by the band (no more bull-shit to take from Universal Records) and released on their own independant Disques Hives imprint.
If you are familiar with The Hives at all, you know that their frontman “Howlin” Pelle Almqvist is one of the seemingly cockiest rock singers on a stage these days, they are one of the tightest sounding garage/rock bands on record, and they can all wear the fuck out of some matching “Mod” suits. All these fundamentals are extremely obvious upon listening to Lex Hives (yes, even the suits, because a 60′s Telecaster sounds so much better when you’re dressed in enough tweed that you could deliver a batch of newspapers between songs).
Lex Hives starts out simple, with the daunting punk-faced opening track “Come On” which literally demands the listener to, er…well…COME ON!!! And if you choose to indeed “come on” after its abrupt end, we are then taken to the lead single off of the album, “Go Right Ahead” (another demanding title, jeeeez so bossy!?). If you can get over the borrowed riff from E.L.O.’s “Don’t Bring Me Down” and focus more on the BAD-ass baritone saxophones then you will thoroughly enjoy it for the “feel-great” song that it truly is. After the slippery-fast, piano-frosted “1000 Answers” comes a change of pace to the grooooviest song of the album, “I Want More”, the rantings of a very greedy person of power who just can’t get enough of anything from “shit that’s made in India” to “gold and myrrh”. This is a serious quiet/loud power jam that is delightfully laced with some sweet ol’ 60′s-sounding guitar twangs that would sound right at home on an old Rolling Stones record.
“Wait a Minute” is another highlight on Lex Hives. With group vocals that create a soothing bed throughout basically the entire song, and Almqvist’s insanely infectious vocal melody like sweet candy corn that you can’t stop eating, this song is one you will have stuck the fuck in your head til the day after tomorrow. Oh yeah and the dual guitar solo break in the middle is some of the coolest “ping-pong” work I’ve heard since forever, rising to full perfection when Pelle’s vocals fill in the micro-voids. After the blistering self-indulgent anthem that is “Patrolling Days” comes a more retro-Hives(?) sounding jam, “Take Back The Toys” that kind of brought me back to the days of Veni Vidi Vicious but with more background screams and swagger, including a real cool refreshing bass/drums groove in the middle 8. ”Without The Money” is the slowest tune on the record, but oh so (bitter)sweet. Almqvist just squeeeals his way this organ-ridden soul jam about the (dis)importance of money.
When the needle gets to the cathartic “My Time Is Coming”, and Almqvist starts some deep-voiced crooning over some light instruments, one starts to notice an eerie-as-hell vocal resemblance to a Mick Jagger drawl, not only on this track but retroactively throughout the record. I mean, it’s not like he’s downright imitating him or anything, but I’ll be damned if Almqvist’s faux overly confident/flamboyant stage persona isn’t actually bleeding into his confidence as an actual singer and performer. There is some serious wailing he does on this entire album and his range is just insane. Probably the most inspired and raw I’ve ever heard him sound. For the last two tracks we first have the finger-pointing “If I Had A Cent”, a punk-rock rant on propriety. And just when you think they gone for good, the saxes are back! The closing number “Midnight Shifter” is a good ol’ rock ‘n’ roll sounding song about positive outlook in shitty circumstances, a good way to close out the eclectic album that is Lex Hives.
The Hives are one of those rare rock bands who always show up to perform to their fullest potential, whether live or on record. They are like a well oiled machine that kick-starts perfectly every time without a sputter. Once they get revving it’s a whole different story, but nevertheless, as clearly demonstrated by Lex Hives, the end result is always maximum energy, maximum passion, and maximum Hives.
Check out the music videos for both “Go Right Ahead” and “Wait A Minute” below: