The Hives are back, and this time they're doing it in white jackets. The Swedish five-some hit the American music scene hard three years ago, when, according to their website, the album Veni Vidi Vicious "reintroduced rock in the mainstream (No, I mean actual ROCK MUSIC)." Yes, that's right, folks. Actual, foot-stomping, screamin' vocals rock music, not that "garage" misnomer that followed any band with "the" in its name all through 2001. And now, with their 2004 release Tyrannosaurus Hives, the Hives have brought the rock again, this time with a little less punk and a little more range.
"Abra Cadaver" opens the album with a mass of overexposed vocals and repetitive, energetic strumming. "Howlin'" Pelle Almqvist holds nothing back, as usual - all the swagger and pomp that you've ever read about in interviews comes right through when he opens his mouth to sing. "I need no/need no alibi/honestly, I tell no lies," he yaps defiantly. Almqvist knows how to shout, and commands on tracks like "B For Brutus," but he really turns it up a notch for the wonderfully refreshing "Diabolic Scheme," wailing over the backup strings like a heart-broken fool (even throwing in an Elvis "thankya" for kicks).
What the Hives displayed on previous albums was a relentless, fun-loving rock attitude, but with Tyrannosaurus Hives, the swingin' Swedes have found a better balance between in-your-face energy and more palatable songwriting and musicianship. The pacing is more sophisticated; a fast-paced "Abra Cadaver" leads into swinging beats on "Two-Timing Touch and Broken Bones" and the insanely catchy "Walk Idiot Walk," and the pure rock n roll sound of "Missing Link" hypes things up again after the ballad-esque "Diabolic Scheme." There's more variety here (strings and synths are used in moderation, for spice) and room for the band to stretch, but they haven't taken anything away from themselves as balls out, classic rock n rollers with a new millennium twist.
Throughout the album, the Hives sound tight and right on - Almqvist's energy boils over in perfect amounts as his band mates compensate with consistency of sound and technique. Lyrically, it's classic Hives: simple words delivered in a powerful manner, songs you can sing along with. There's something about this band that makes you keep listening; maybe it's the cocky attitude, or the black and white matching suits, or simply the pleasure of tapping your feet along to an infectious beat. Just how eccentric (or genius) the Hives are is up for debate, but Almqvist gives his opinion to you straight on "Diabolic Scheme": "That's me all right, like purity white and like viciousness black. I give a little and I take it back. Can you take it?"
8.0 / 10
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