So for their fifth full-length album Lex Hives, “Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist” and his merry band of strangers Nicholaus Arson, Vigilante Carlstroem, Dr. Matt Destruction and Chris Dangerous, also known as The Hives (Sweden’s second premiere punk band behind The Refused, of course), found themselves independent of a record label. Interscope, which released their previous two albums, chose not to keep them on as a signed artist.
Bummer, too, man. While Tyrannosaurus Hives and The Black and White Album were good, they couldn’t recapture the success of “Hate To Say I Told You So” and Veni Vidi Vicious – though “Tick Tick Boom” got some play.
I think the problem I went into this album with was that, this band has worn me down. These days, if I want to hear something feverish or frantic, I usually turn toward Converge or something with an edge to it. The Hives are content with playing the “Andrew W.K.” role – super clean cut. And sometimes that works too. But the type of audible sameness, the lack of sonic differentiation… just doesn’t work anymore.
A song like “Midnight Shifter” at least takes a stab at trying something different and new. For me, it falls a little flat, but it’s worth a spin or two.
The independence allowed the band creative freedom, but at times, since it was self-paid, the production suffers – best evident on “These Spectacles Reveal the Nostalgics”. But then again… maybe that was intentional? Maybe that was the band’s true sound and somewhere along the way good and raw intentions with Barely Legal, the breakout success of Veni Vidi Vicious, they got caught up in squeaky cleanness and licensed music. Who knows.
Whatever the case: the shtick has been real fun to watch. But after five albums, doesn’t it start to lose its luster?
From their 2012 releases Lex Hives, here’s “1000 Answers” –
Standout tracks: “Patrolling Days” and “Take Back the Toys”
Weakest track: “Without the Money” – harkens back to the days of “Find Yourself Another Girl.” Blah.
RIYL: Punk, garage punk, maybe even a little pop punk. Somewhere between Andrew W.K. and Refused.