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Review

The Hives maintain unique sound

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November 29, 2007

Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist, The Hives’ eccentric and out of control front man, never seems to shut up. From shouting, “Tick, tick, tick, tick, boom!” on their explosive new single, to hollering “Giddy up!” on a tune of the same title, Almqvist never gives your ears a break. Yet, when The Hives’ latest, The Black and White Album, has finally torn through your iPod, your brain will crave more.

The Hives have always been about bashing snares, crack-induced hooks, catchy-as-hell guitar riffs and cocky-yet-charming attitude. Their first two albums followed this format exactly, helping drive the garage rock revival that paved the way for bands like The Strokes and The White Stripes to gain a foreground in the music biz. The Hives never seemed to accomplish enough to join their comrades; their music was just too repetitive for most. With The Black and White Album, The Hives have finally crafted an album that experiments and deviates enough from their usual format, but not enough to lose their trademark sound. The result is a happy medium for past fans, new fans and club hitters alike.

Faithful fans will notice what’s different first. The Hives have expanded, toyed and mixed up just about everything they’ve become known for. The riffs are there, the hooks are there, and the everlasting sound of Chris Dangerous’ drums are intact, but now they give more variety. “Try It Again” gives smooth vibes under Almqvist, who shouts, “You get up, you get down and you try it again!” while what sounds like high school cheerleaders scream along side with him. “A Stroll Through Hive Manor” is a short instrumental of keyboards and synthesizers that sounds like it was taken from an episode of Scooby-Doo, just as the ghost appears behind the Mystery Machine. Even big time producer Pharrell got infected by The Hives and contributed to “T.H.E.H.I.V.E.S.,” a strong dance number that brings in ‘70s funk, bass grooves and high falsettos.

Dance rock seems to invade The Hives more frequently than not this time around. Instead of steady drum-beats, there are swing-like conga drums that rectify “Well All Right!” “Giddy Up!” could have been stolen from any old school rapper, and “Won’t Be Long” sounds like Radiohead covering the 80s classic, “Turning Japanese.” As strange as all of this new-found experimentation sounds, The Hives still retain their dignity by not straying too far from the original formula. “Bigger Hole To Fill” has enough clashing and banging to suit any garage rock fan, “Square One Here I Come” is reminiscent of the power rock of KISS melting with quick jabs of The Ramones, and there can’t be any complaints when “You Dress Up For Armageddon” takes a cue from classic alternative rock like The Clash. The Hives look like they have taken a place in music, and it’s only a matter of time before Almqvist starts to invade your ear drums. Catch the disease.

Matthew Loosbrock is a student at UW-River Falls.