Here I am! All ready to berate The Hives from atop my glittering ivory fortress of smug for having the audacity, the impudent impertinent insolence to release another album when it seems readily apparent that they had long ago faded into utter irrelevance.
The Hives are Sweden’s equivalent of a chemically induced, catastrophic divergence from reality headed by feverish, screeching lunatic Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist.
A decade or more ago, The Hives escaped their snowy socialist utopia and, through the post-millennial punk resurgence, the rest of the world was introduced to a fervently deranged cast who are allegedly the Machiavellian play things of musical mastermind Randy Fitzsimmons.
The semi-mythical Randy has never before been seen in public, and it is unclear whether he is real or just a contrivance employed by the band to instil a little more intrigue.
I don’t think anyone cares enough to find out either way.
Lex Hives is their fifth album after a prolonged five year break. It took them so long to make because they produced it themselves and didn’t really know what they were doing.
Will it be any good? Well, it’s either review this or shit my shrivelled bowels out over the new Alexandra Burke album so here we go.
I think they’ve sorted themselves a new opening song for their gigs with Come On! an arrestingly snappy intro to the album. It’s like a countdown to a rocket blasting off but with Almqvist screaming out “Come On!” over and over and over again as a sort of provocative challenge to the listener.
Lead single Go Right Ahead is one of the standout tracks. On first listen, you may think “That sounds a lot like all the other songs that The Hives have made.”
It lacks the alacrity of some of the later tracks despite the frenetic energy poured into it however it is effectively carried along by the unnerving menace of the lyrics:
Here’s a secret, keep it tight
It’s California, late at night
Go right ahead
We’re gonna drink, fuck and fight all night
The over used refrain does lend itself to repetitiveness however:
Go right ahead
Go right ahead
Go right ahead
You gotta … when you go out to your head
1000 Answers has floated around for a while, even being used on the self-replicating disease that is the FIFA video game franchise. This is a less energetic track, being a catchy ode to the unknowable answers in life wrapped up in four minutes of electro-shock therapy.
I’ve got a thousand answers,
One of them has got to be right
I Want More is quite different. It’s a bit spoken word and a bit AC/DC but it mostly sounds a lot like I Love Rock n’ Roll, albeit the Joan Jett version rather than the version that Britney Spears vommed up.
Wait a Minute isn’t exactly classic Hives. There’s heavy hints of 80s new-romanticism, even a little bit of Billy Idol maybe.
Maybe I got carried away a bit there.
Patrolling Days wouldn’t sound out of place on earlier Hives albums. There are seemingly unrelated chord changes all over the show but is a bit too lengthy and doesn’t have the structure of some of the other tracks, it’s not bad – just not great.
My patrolling days are over
And I ain’t shot nobody since
Take Back the Toys molests you with a pneumatic, hammering drum beat and some assuredly scuzzy guitars from the instantaneous, no-intro get go. This was the first track when I turned the volume up to an annoyingly, perhaps even illegally, high level.
There is a mid track climax of broken sounding instruments. It’s a lunging attack of unrelated notes thrashed out into sounding like endless rows of guitars being brutally tortured. All the time the mechanical drum beats relentlessly on, like the heartbeat of a giant aroused robot.
I really like this.
Without the Money is as close as The Hives will come to a love song. They really shouldn’t try to get any closer. It is a bit unlistenable, a little too raw, like eating a really nice steak when it is still part of the cow. And the cow is alive.
The absurdly titled These Spectacles Reveal the Nostalgics is another turbo charged flail but it is indistinguishable from some of the other tracks and the Hives back catalogue in general and marks the beginning of the end of what had been, up until this point, an enjoyable if nostalgic waltz down Hivesy Lane.
My Time Is Coming and If I Had a Cent pass without incident before the final lift of Midnight Shifter explosively discharges the last bit of remaining energy from the album.
Lex Hives is old fashioned and for those who either did not know or had forgotten The Hives, it will perhaps prove remote and inaccessible.
It’s not perfect, the quality of tracks certainly tails off toward the end of the album and it may have been wise to have excised some of the weaker songs altogether.
It is refreshingly different from the other ear-splitting shite that passes for punk-rock music nowadays and will make for a satisfying distraction, although in an old-fashioned and deeply unoriginal way.
Don’t expect any of the tracks to be around as long as Hate to Say I Told You So or Main Offender though.
I think I would actually go to a shop and buy this or, y’know, listen to it on the internet for free.