The Hives – The Black And White Album (2007): Review

hiveblack

Produced by Dennis Herring, The Neptunes, Jacknife Lee, The Hives and Thomas Oberg
Label – Polydor/No Fun/A&M/Octone

There’s always a sense of self deprecating irony in Hives Manor. From the garage rock revival of the early years of the new millennium the Fagersta 5 piece have survived whilst others have wilted, and one senses that much of their longevity is built upon a strict following of musical style, and a purposeful intention to not take themselves too seriously. The Hives are definitely NOT one trick ponies, but one can half expect a familiar amount of sharp riffs, some manic vocal delivery from front man Pelle Almqvist, and cranked up punk rhythms which always ally them to great live performances, if nothing else. tempting Pharrell Williams, Jacknife Lee and Dennis Herring to produce their 5th studio album could have spelt a mammoth move away from what had built the bands’ success, and would have surely alienated the faithful legions. Fortunately, little of the bombast is gone, and although there is a move towards a mainstream polish, “The Black And White Album” retains enough strong core elements and significant raw swagger to make for a fine return.

hives

Kicking off with the incendiary leadoff single “Tick Tick Boom”, explosive riffing, rocketed with Herring’s studio effects and drummer Chris Dangerous’ powerful rhythms. It’s a superb introduction which is ably matched by the forthcoming single “Try It Again” which retains the urgency, aided and abetted by Riotgrrrl cheerleading and Almqvist’s dry declaration that “They say the definition of madness is doing the same thing and expecting a different result!”. If this is a plea to the masses that there is justification in their change of approach by using new producers, they needn’t worry because they’ve already snagged us in by track 2. “You Got It All Wrong” returns to the lightning fast lo-fi punk of “Barely Legal” and comes as a welcome reminder that The Hives haven’t forgotten how to lay on the spit and snarl charm of the past. Halfway through the band delve into new territories, and the results are generally favourable (barring the nonsense cheap Casio instrumental “A Stroll Through Hive Manor Corridors”). Oddly, the Pharrell produced disco workout “T.H.E.H.I.V.E.S.” isn’t the calamity it could have been. In fact, it’s quite endearing in a kind of clumsy, Jaggeresque falsetto filled way. “Won’t Be Long” ventures directly into Strokes territory as Almqvist slurs in true Casablancas style to a highly catchy guitar lead. It’s all pure fun, and granted this album will never be a definitive musical experience, but then The Hives have never been in that league anyway. Taken on its own merit, and compared to previous recordings, this is a worthy accompaniment to anything from a high quality back catalogue.

“The Black And White Album” reaffirms just why The Hives are the most exciting band to have come from Sweden….ever.

8/10

Track Listing
1.”Tick Tick Boom” – 3:25
2.”Try it Again” – 3:29
3.”You Got it All… Wrong” – 2:42
4.”Well All Right!” – 3:29
5.”Hey Little World” – 3:22
6.”A Stroll Through Hive Manor Corridors” – 2:37
7.”Won’t Be Long” – 3:46
8.”T.H.E.H.I.V.E.S.” – 3:37
9.”Return the Favour” – 3:09
10.”Giddy Up!” – 2:51
11.”Square One Here I Come” – 3:10
12.”You Dress Up for Armageddon” – 3:09
13.”Puppet on a String” – 2:54
14.”Bigger Hole to Fill” – 3:37

Tick Tick Boom

Try It Again

T.H.E.H.I.V.E.S.

See Also…

Hackskeptic’s 500 Greatest Songs: The Hives – Hate To Say I Told You So

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