It’s that time, the ever popular classic spats and slick white jackets have been laid to rest and in their place a new uniform has been donned by the notorious group of crazed Swedes, a preppy school boy outfit equipped with a dizzying stripped tie and a glaring capital H stitched on the breast. This can only mean one thing, ladies and gentlemen there is a new Hives album.
By the looks of it The Hives are pretty much the same as the last time we saw them, exhibiting energy levels only found in children on Halloween after a sugar loaded trick-or-treating binge and flaunting the unapologetic egos of several adolescent boys. The Hives are every bit as manic and cocky as we remember. Opening the album with single ‘Tick Tick Boom’, singer Pelle Alqmvist screeches ‘Yeah, I was right you were wrong’ and ‘Well you see, that’s me, I’ll put you back in your place’ while racing guitars challenge the speed of light.
‘The Black and White Album’ is made of the hyperactive garage rock The Hives are famous for, but this album is slightly more evolved. ‘Try It Again’ and ‘You Got It All… Wrong’ are fast, spunky and spastic, but more coherent than the majority of the band’s older material and boast a more polished physique. However, this does not make ‘The Black and White Album’ a more mature endeavor, as immaturity has generally worked in The Hives’ favour. The Hives make the most of their childlike qualities, playing with around with deep vocals and melodies on a variety of tracks.
On ‘T.H.E.H.I.V.E.S.’ vocals alternate between Pelle’s flippant chant ‘we rule the world’ and a deep voice that could make Julian Casablancas’ booming vocals appear preadolescent. The band also jokes around on the number ‘Puppet on a String’, a slow, eerie track of only piano, hand claps, and Pelle’s theatrical vocals.
Luckily, The Hives’ playful juvenile approach rarely backfires, however the album does have a few moments of weakness. Despite its comical name ‘A Stroll Through Hives Manor’ is a rather pointless endeavor and clearly more amusing to the band than listeners. The track is a spooky, instrumental tune, the kind that often accompanies cheap horror flicks and indicates the doomed fate of the lead character as they stupidly investigate a haunted house.
The album’s last song ‘Fall Is Just Something That Grownups Invented’ is the ultimate tribute to the band’s inner child. Beginning with a sad croon, Pelle laments the sad tale of how adults have maliciously plotted to keep children out of trouble by sending them away to school, however it doesn’t take long before track breaks into a fully fledged melodic rant on the injustice of getting sent back to school after summer vacation. It’s the perfect end to the album, packed with racing guitar, spastic drums, and charmingly infantile attitude.
They may have a new album and an evolved sound, but these boys aren’t taking life too seriously. Don’t let the flashy new uniforms fool you, ‘The Black and White Album’ is a new bag of tricks but The Hives are still just about having a good time.
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