There was something in the way that The Hives frontman Howlin' Pelle Almqvist moved about the stage and preened with extravagant confidence at Coachella this Spring, a particular confidence to make me suspect that the Swedish quintet's newest offering would pack some extra punch. After all, to see the typically obnoxiously obtuse frontman turn the dial up even further when the band has been off virtually all American radars for nearly five years certainly indicated that he possessed a secret of powerful proportions.
On June 5th that secret escapedt: the new Hives record Lex Hives, which roughly translates as “Hives’ Law,” is a blast of bombastic fantasticness that far eclipses their last offering The Black and White Album, a fine-tuning of their Ramones-meets-Stooges-on-speed formula and a trimming of the fat for a beautiful leap into the world of independent self-release. It's worn proudly on the sleeve right alongside the goofy megalomania on "1000 Answers" when Almqvist howls, "I've got a thousand answers / One's gotta be right / Give me a thousand chances / then I'll get it right". The cadence, the attitude, the jet-fueled delivery, it's all there.
Granted, the derivatives suffer a touch for their predictable surface exfoliation. There's a very clear line between "I Love Rock n' Roll," "We Will Rock You" and "Back in Black" – all on one track: "I Want More" may as well be those three songs laid over one another. It doesn't help that the Iggy-does-rap vocal takes a good deal of getting used to.
That said, simplicity is sometimes the best weapon. 68-second opener "Come On!" and single "Go Right Ahead" is a snap-strut jutting introduction that sets an ADHD bar at just the right height for the band to repeatedly drop-kick as the album progresses. The New Wave punchy blast of "Wait a Minute" skates on an infectious catchiness, while the razors stay sharp on the cutting "If I Had a Cent": “If I had a cent for every time / For every time you crossed the line / Of what’s appropriate or not / I’d be the richest guy in town,” Pelle crows at a breakneck pace.
The album blasts through a dozen songs at just over a half hour, pushing forty minutes on the deluxe edition. Queens of The Stone Age nucleus Joshua Homme brought the boys under his wing for a blast session in the San Fernando Valley this Spring, resulting in two bonus tracks for the deluxe that stand their own against anything else on the album, though possessing an entirely different energy: "High School Shuffle" and "Insane" – listen to both right here.
Welcome to The Hives’ Law – keep up with the party if you can.
Pick up Lex Hives at the official website of The Hives.